Aug. 22, 2006
With a new coach and tons of returning talent, the Northwestern Wildcats are looking to build on a 9-9-1 record in 2005. Stephanie Erickson, Northwestern's all-time career leader in goals and points returns to Evanston to take over a very experienced team. All but one starter are back from last year's team.
On offense, the 'Cats will be led by junior Kelsey Hans. Hans netted six goals in 2005 and led the Wildcats in scoring with 16 points. Sophomores Jenny Dunn and Jeanette Lorme will also be players to watch. They combined for 10 goals and 28 points last season.
"It's great to have returners in a goal-scoring role. Kelsey Hans has matured immensely and will be a constant threat for us this season," said head coach Stephanie Erickson. "She will have an amazing supporting cast in Jenny Dunn and Jeanette Lorme, both who scored in double digits as freshmen."
Between the posts, senior Whitney Jones returns for her senior campaign. Jones has started every game of her Northwestern career, and in 2005 she had a goals-against average of 1.22.
"Whitney will provide excellent leadership in the back for us," said Erickson. "She has gained a lot of experience in her three years and her senior year should be an excellent culmination of her outstanding career."
The 'Cats have plenty of experience on the backline as well. Seniors will lead a defense that recorded four shutouts in 2005.
"Our defense will be anchored by seniors Tori Bohannon and Katie Wright," said Erickson. "Both Tori and Katie have provided consistent athleticism and tactical knowledge to the backs for three years. Sophomore Laura Janowitsch (a Big Ten All-Freshman selection in 2005) had an excellent freshman year and will be a strong attacking threat out of the back."
Junior Shannon Schneeman is back from injury to help lead the midfield unit. Schneeman sat out 2005, but recorded five goals and five assists in 2004.
Erickson also brought in a coaching staff that should teach the 'Cats not only skills and strategy, but also Northwestern tradition. Erin Ekeberg, a Wildcat goalkeeper from 1997-2000 joins the staff as an assistant along with Danielle Slaton, a former member of the U.S. National Team. Brooke Bean, another former Wildcat rounds out the staff.
"I am excited to provide all of our keepers with an excellent trainer in assistant coach Erin Ekeberg. They are going to improve drastically under her tutelage," said Erickson. "Our defense is fortunate to learn from one of the best defenders this nation has produced in assistant coach Danielle Slaton."
This will be Erickson's first year as a head coach in the Big Ten, and although she knows the competition will be fierce, she is confident her team will work hard to prepare for the challenge.
"I have incredibly high expectations for this team in my first season," Erickson said. "I expect that our players will consistently train and compete at an exceptionally high level-that they will demand excellence from themselves and each other and that a culture of commitment, competitiveness and pride, on and off the field, will be the foundation of this program."