Aug. 12, 2002
NORSE HOPE TO RELOAD IN 2002
Replacing outstanding senior class is key this season
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - To say last seasons senior class was special to the Northern Kentucky University womens soccer program would be a bit of an understatement. It would be like suggesting the Los Angeles Lakers are a decent basketball team.
NKU head coach Bob Sheehan, who brought in a highly-regarded class of prep recruits in 1998, watched that group win four Great Lakes Valley Conference championships, advance to the NCAA Division II Final Four three times and elevate NKU among the nations elite programs. Simply put, the 1998 recruiting class put NKU on the collegiate womens soccer map with an incredible four-year record of 81-10-5.
The seniors collegiate journey ended last season with a trip to the NCAA Division II Final Four, where NKU dropped a 3-2 decision to eventual national champion UC San Diego. The Norse, who spent much of the season ranked No. 1 nationally in the Division II poll, finished with a 22-2 record.
Last years team had a tremendous run, and to advance to the Final Four was a great accomplishment, Sheehan said. Last years seniors performed at a very high level, and they played key roles in the growth and success of the program.
As the 2002 season approaches, NKU must replace three-time All-American Betsy Moore, who finished her career as the Norses all-time scoring leader. Also among the missing are NKU career assists leader and two-time All-American Tricia Ruark, along with All-GLVC selections Jeanna Martin and Lori Kevill. All-GLVC defensive standouts Eva Broeg and Amanda Trout are also gone, as is key defender Jennifer Wilhelm.
NKU will now rely on 11 returning letterwinners and an outstanding recruiting class in an attempt to win the GLVC title for a fifth consecutive year.
I am optimistic that we will have good team speed, good balance across the field, and a fair degree of depth, Sheehan said. I am hopeful that we will develop into an exciting team to watch.
NKU will feature senior forward Bessie Black, who scored 21 goals and earned All-GLVC honors last season. Black also had 15 assists and was named All-Region.
Also returning is senior forward Stephanie Sandfoss, who scored 11 goals a year ago. Sophomore forward/midfielder Bobbi Meister also figures to be a key this season.
Stephanie Sandfoss and Bessie Black are proven goal scorers, and Bobbi Meister returns after gaining experience as a freshman, Sheehan said.
NKU also adds junior Aisling Callaghan, a native of Ireland who could provide immediate help at forward.
Returning letterwinners Molly Eagan, Hope Bushelman, Carey Hebbeler, Kristen Noakes and Kendra Zinser add experience and talent.
Molly Eagan will contribute at outside midfield and defender, while Hope Bushelman, Carey Hebbeler, and Kristen Noakes are strong returning central midfield players, Sheehan said. Kendra Zinser has several years of experience at outside midfield for us. We also have nine newcomers, and we are really excited to see how they develop.
The list of freshmen includes Michelle Kelly, Emily Doll, Katie Hanck, Laurel Chalk, Amy Martini and Ashley McGuffey. NKU also added a pair of goalies in Ohio State transfer Jennie Ulrey and freshman Sam Westerling. Ulrey and Westerling will compete with returning letterwinner Megan Zalla for the goalie position.
The NKU defense welcomes back starters Robyn Withers and Becky Schnieders. Sheehan said Doll and McGuffey are highly-touted defenders who could help this year.
NKU will begin the 2002 season on Aug. 30 with an 8 p.m. contest against Saginaw Valley State University at the Town & Country Sports Complex in Wilder, Ky.