Photo by Hillary Ehlen
Hanna Norman is one of the rare players on the Bison soccer team who returns to the starting lineup with substantial Division I experience. This season, she’ll have different partners playing next to her while swinging back to her old position as a central defender. Read how she’s approaching her junior campaign.
HOMETOWN: HASTINGS, MINNESOTA
How do you react to losing so many seniors and older teammates?
Hanna Norman: “For me, I guess I just have to have confidence in our freshmen and underclassmen to step-up now that they know there are spots to fill. When our sophomores were freshmen, it was hard for them to get on the field and get experience. Now that those seniors are gone, they’ll be able to step up.”
How has the adjustment been for you playing with new defenders next to you?
HN: “Throughout practices, we’ve been rotating people in and figuring out who works best together. For me, it’s mostly trying to figure out who I can connect with best as my other middle (defender) and along with my outside (fullbacks). Right now, I think we’re doing pretty well figuring that out.
“We’ve been working a lot on defense since we lost a lot of people. The first three days of preseason was all about defending. We got that down and we’re looking pretty strong with rebuilding back there. I’m getting a lot more comfortable.”
With your experience on the outside, as a former fullback, are you there to give advice?
HN: “Yeah, I’m always available to help. I played centre-back my whole club career. Having that experience my first two years outside and being able to connect and my center experience at the club, I kind of get it. When they have questions, I’m there and I can help.”
Having four defenders in the back, is that beneficial to the inexperience or is that more for the midfielders?
HN: “Four in the back will be better for us because of how many people we lost. It’s easier to defend with four than having three spread out. It’s easier to get our partners and figure who we work with. Nat (Natalie Fenske) and Genna (Joyce) and I, we worked well with a three-back. It’s just with the people we have now, it’s really working (with four).”
During your first two years here, you won Summit League regular season titles and experienced early exits in the playoffs. Do you take that into the next season for motivation?
HN: “You get the grit and fight. We are ready. We’ve always had the goal to get to the (national) tournament. Being out the past two years, we’re trying to get our freshmen to realize how much we want this. Because they weren’t around for the first two and don’t get it. But I think we have a good group and think we can go far.”