Photo by J. Alan Paul Photography
The NDSU women’s soccer team finished the 2015 season undefeated in the Summit League with seven wins and one tie. They were denied a trip to the NCAA Tournament, however, when they fell to South Dakota State in the Summit League tournament championship match, 0-3. With those bad memories behind them, head coach Mark Cook and senior striker Lauren Miller are ready to complete the final step this season.
Out of all the teams in the Summit League, none are more prepared than NDSU from last season to find glory in 2016. The Bison return Summit League Offensive Player of the Year Lauren Miller and Freshman of the Year Britney Monteon. Throw first- team All-Summit League midfielder Amy Yang into the mix and no other team is as dangerous as the Bison on the attack.
“I think from having so many returning players, we know how we want to play. We know how we want to set up. We know we’re going to be able to score goals. We probably have the most dangerous forwards in the Summit, so we’re pretty confident that goals will happen,” head coach Mark Cook said. “But we want to make sure we’re putting zeros on the board from our opponents, too.”
The Bison return another first- teamer, Natalie Fenske, on defense to help support whoever wins the goalkeeper position. The Bison conceded 26 goals, 11 less than they scored, in 20 games last season. Goalkeeper of the Year Sierra Bonham had a lot to do with the stifling defense, but she won’t return this year.
“We have two freshmen and a redshirt sophomore. We’re confident one of them will step up,” Cook said. “We want to make sure our goalkeepers aren’t giving up the soft goal, making any mental mistakes back there. As long as they’re consistent and do the job on a consistent basis, that will do the job. Leadership is another thing we’re looking for, someone who can verbally control the backline.”
The senior striker Miller isn’t worried about who will be in goal. She said all she’s concerned with is the team meshing this preseason so they can begin another successful stretch through the Summit League.
“I don’t know about added pressure, but more motivation, I guess,” Miller said. “We’ve gotten so close in the last three years since I’ve been here, so that will push us to get through to the NCAA tournament. Last year, we lost so hopefully this year we can get through.”
Cook is confident the team will do just that this year, as long as they keep doing what made them successful last season.
“We know we have the talent in our locker room and so for us, it’s coming out every day and working hard, not putting pressure on ourselves because I think we’re going to be the favorite,” Cook said. “We just want to go out and play and play free.”