The Bison Soccer Team played a tough game last fall, giving it everything they had. The team kicked their way through difficult opponents, and managed to end the season with an almost undefeated record in the Summit League. The team, which was lead by 10 seniors, saw one of its best seasons to date.
New Head Soccer Coach Mark Cook, explained what differences will be seen this season, “Actually there are a lot of differences. A new head coach for one, it’s really going to be a change for the players, and a change for me being the new head coach. But also, a big difference is that the team graduated 10 seniors, and we’re going to be very young. We’re going to be pretty inexperienced defensively. That’s probably the biggest issue, compared to a year ago, when we had 10 seniors graduate, who were matured and had leadership experience—that experience we’re not going to have this year.”
Fans will be missing several familiar faces as conference play heats up this fall, since the team has lost key players, such as Abby Moenkedick, Michelle Gaffeney, Megan Dean, Laura Wagner and many others. However, there are a few experienced Bison that will be coming back to Fargo this fall, Shannon Brooks, Holly Christian and Jordyn Wallenborn being a few who will be ready to step up into leadership roles.
The NDSU Soccer Program will be facing a challenging schedule this season, as they will be playing their first several games on the road and have only one non-conference game at home. Although a busy travel schedule may create obstacles for the youthful team, the Bison will have some of their most important conference games on their home field. The home-opener will be against South Dakota State, who won the Summit League Championship last season, followed by a weekend of play against IPFW and Oakland. The Bison Soccer Team will have its work cut out for them, but with a few veteran team members returning and the direction of Coach Cook, the team will face opponents head on.
Q&A With Head Soccer Coach Mark Cook
BI: Who were some of the key departures that the team had last year?
Abbey Moenkedick, she was a senior. She played a lot of minutes, and she was a huge player for this team over her four years. Michelle Gaffaney was a center-mid, she was a great player who will really be missed. The defenders are, truthfully, one area where we’re going to be short this year, and those players are going to be players we wish we had for one more year.
BI: What goals do you have in mind for the team this season?
It’s always our goal to finish in the top four in the Summit League. That would get us into the Summit League Tournament. Of course, we want to win the league. I think the first step to finish in the top four is to be eligible for the Summit League Tournament, then once we get to the tournament we’ll see what happens.
BI: What is something interesting about this year’s team?
I think a lot of people just need to know we’re here. I think it’d be great just to get fans to come out and watch us. These kids work extremely hard. One thing I noticed, as soon as I got the position of head coach, was the effort that they put in on a daily basis and the off season. That’s a credit to what they do. We just want fans to come out and support Bison Soccer. We truly believe we’re going to be a very good, competitive team. We’ve got some good young players and we’re certainly hoping to continue on with this path that we’ve had in the past. Come out and support us!