Aug. 20, 2009
Coming off its first 10-win season since 2004, Northwestern women’s soccer is poised to take another step forward in 2009. The Wildcats have bettered their record in each of head coach Stephanie Erickson’s first three years at the helm of her alma mater and this year will take aim at the school’s first NCAA Tournament bid in 11 years.
With six starters back from last year’s 10-9-1 team, Northwestern will rely on a mix of veteran leadership and newcomers stepping in to fill quality minutes.
Goalkeeper Carolyn Edwards leads the list of ’Cats returnees. Just a junior, Edwards already left her mark on NU record books by posting five clean sheets in 2008, the fifth-best single-season total in school history. Edwards’ 1.47 GAA also ranks eighth on Northwestern’s all-time charts.
Other key returnees include junior Sam Greene, who tied for the team scoring lead in 2008 with 14 points (three goals, eight assists), and senior Alicia Herczeg, who added four goals of her own.
“We’ll be a lot more organized defensively than we have been in the past,” Erickson says of her ’09 squad. “That’s due in large part to the fact that we’re going to have plenty of experience on the field, from Carolyn Edwards in goal up to Nicole Duller, Ali Rubnitz, Sarah Sroka and other members of our back line. That’s something that gives us a lot of confidence. That will also allow us to spend a lot more time in preseason on our attack, making it much more dynamic and sophisticated in the way we go about progressing the ball up the field. We’re certainly interested to see who emerges as goal-scorers since recently our scoring has been generally balanced. Kelsey Bertamus is coming back after an injury her freshman year and we really think she’s someone who can develop as a consistent threat up top for us.”
The Wildcats feature five upperclassmen on the 2009 roster – the first group to play exclusively under Erickson at Northwestern.
“I think it’s a huge benefit to have the same staff working with a group of kids for four years with no turnover in coaches, and that’s something that is becoming more and more rare these days. Alicia Herczeg, Leigh Jakes, Jessica Palo, Ali Rubnitz and Kay Sampson have absorbed everything we’ve tried to teach them from the day our coaching staff got here and they have never batted an eye. They’re absolutely responsible for the change in culture we’ve seen and they’ve been excellent leaders within our program. They didn’t expect to have us as coaches when they decided to come to NU but we’re so thankful for their trust and leadership.”
Several newcomers to the Northwestern program will be looked at to play big roles in 2009, starting with University of California transfer Caroline Dagley. The speedy forward will be joined by freshmen Catherine Parish, the 2008 NSCAA Oklahoma state player of the year, Kendall Thoreson and Briana Westlund as key contributors to the Wildcats’ season.
Northwestern faces a challenging schedule that includes eight 2008 NCAA Tournament qualifiers and the earliest regular season game in school history. But with Erickson’s leadership, a strong core of returnees and key contributions from team newcomers the Wildcats are ready to make 2009 the year they return to postseason play.