Photo by Hillary Ehlen
Sixth-year head coach Mark Cook hopes he can find the right form for the Bison soccer team in 2017.
1. New Defense
The Bison played with three defenders last year and will switch to four on the back line this season. Two experienced starters are gone so it’s up to junior and three-year starter Hanna Norman to solidify the defense at the centre-back position.
2. Central Striker
The Bison have a true central striker this season with junior and captain Holly Enderle. At 5-foot-11, Enderle’s physicality and ability to score in the opposing box will make her hard to stop on the offensive end.
3. Between the Posts
Monica Polgar emerged as a star at goalkeeper for the Bison during her fabulous freshman season. She led the Summit League in shutouts (6) and was named second team All-Summit League. This season, head coach Mark Cook hopes she can take her game to the next level by directing the Bison’s backline.
4. Fresh Start
The Bison have won two consecutive Summit League regular season championships but it hasn’t translated to postseason success. With 10 seniors and six starters from the final game of last season gone from the program, it feels like a new generation of Bison soccer has arrived to the pitch at Dacotah Field.
Your team played a couple long balls to Holly Enderle during the second exhibition. Will there be more of that this season?
Mark Cook: “Yes and no. It’s all situational. Sometimes we build out to our own fault and that’s what got us in a little bit of trouble in the first exhibition. We were trying to build, and it put us in space to make mistakes. There are times where you have to put the ball in the other half of the field. … We said, ‘If we’re under pressure, let’s go defend their half and make them go through us.’
“That’s the learning curve right now. We possess to a fault right now and that’s what we have to solve, the over-possession, the possession for the sake of possession.”
How do you improve the team’s possession, especially when that’s your preferred style of play?
Mark Cook: “It’s hard to get a team to learn how to possess, and sometimes you have to take them out of that system and say, ‘Hey, it’s okay to play long balls,’ if they’re long balls with a purpose. We don’t want to hit the ball 50 yards up the field for no reason, so we’re talking about when to play big and when to play small.”