Aug. 29, 2007
Entering her second season as head coach of her alma mater, Stephanie Erickson's Northwestern Wildcats return all but one starter from a squad that posted an 8-10-2 record and appeared in the Big Ten Tournament in 2006.
"We have a lot of familiar faces returning for this year from our players, coaches and support staff," Erickson said. "This is very rare and I think it will only help our program. It is great that everything we do in the preseason will be review and that we have a year of learning and organization under our belts."
At forward, the 'Cats return several weapons from a unit that finished third in the Big Ten in goals last season. Senior Kelsey Hans scored seven goals in 2006 and ranks second on NU's all-time career list behind Coach Erickson with 28. Junior Jenny Dunn, who led the 'Cats in assists with five, will help anchor the unit with sophomore Alicia Herczeg, who enjoyed a solid freshman campaign with three goals.
In the midfield, the Wildcats will be lead by senior Shannon Schneeman, junior Jeanette Lorme and sophomore Zendzi Neal. Schneeman returned to the field in 2006 after missing all of 2005 due to injury and notched 14 points with five goals. Lorme's two goals in 2006 were both game-winners.
"The midfield was our unsung hero last year and was one of the best in the Big Ten," Erickson said. "Having Shannon back is monumental. She is versatile and provides tremendous leadership."
On defense, the 'Cats return 2006 Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection Leigh Jakes. Junior Laura Janowitsch, who set a career high with four assists in 2006 and senior Kelly Sitkowski will join her in the back.
Between the pipes, NU returns senior Lauren Johnston. The senior recorded four shutouts in Big Ten play and started all 20 games for the 'Cats last year.
On top of all of the players returning, Erickson welcomes a 10-player freshman class for 2007.
"This is an exciting class, and everyone can compete for playing time," Erickson said. "We learned from last year that having depth this year will not only protect us in case of injury, but will create competition and a dynamic atmosphere for training."
Although they will continue to play their home games next to beautiful Lake Michigan, the 'Cats will move to a brand new FieldTurf facility, Lakeside Field, for the 2007 campaign.
"We are very excited about our new facility," Erickson said. "It will bring excitement to our play and will create an excellent environment and atmosphere for our games. It also provides our visiting opponents a first-class experience on a great surface."
Erickson's Wildcats notched four Big Ten victories in 2006 and are hungry to cement themselves among the conference's elite.
"I expect us to be more consistent at all positions on the field," Erickson said. "We were competitive in the Big Ten last year, but I think our improved consistency will make us even more of a force in the league this season."