Bemidji State Soccer Tabbed Sixth in Preseason Polls
Friday, August 22, 2003
BEMIDJI, MINN. - Despite losing 14 letter winners and returning six sophomores to the line-up, the Bemidji State Beaver soccer program is picked to finish sixth in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, according to the 2003 NSIC Preseason Coaches’ Poll. One source of excitement for the team is returning all-conference first team performer, sophomore Lindsey Natwick. Natwick joined eight other offensive players as a 2003 NSIC Offensive Player to Watch.

“ I am little bit surprised (of our pick), but not completely because of our recruiting class,” said head coach Jim Stone. “We are the youngest team in the NSIC by far.

“We will be making a huge jump (from last season) to finish sixth. If we can stay healthy from here on out, we have a shot at it (sixth-place).”

At the top of the league, Winona State and Minnesota-Duluth tie for first with 60 points with WSU gaining five first-place votes compared to four by UM-D. The Warriors, which won the 2002 tournament championship, have split the last seven NSIC regular season and tournament titles with UM-Duluth. Picked third is Northern State (44 points), followed by SW Minnesota State (43) in fourth, Wayne State (Neb.) (42) in fifth, Minnesota-Crookston (18) in seventh, Concordia-St. Paul (16 points) in eighth and MSU-Moorhead (15) in ninth.

Meanwhile, Natwick brings a scorers mentality for the Beavers. The native of Bismarck, N.D. returns as the school’s second-most prolific freshman scorer. Her 26 points (10 goals-six assists) in 2002 was second only to Becky Elk’s 32 points (14 goals-four assists) in 1999. Natwick started in 15 contests and notched two game-winners including one in a record-setting six-goal contest against Wisconsin-Superior (10/1/02). She added two assists for a total of 14 points - the most ever in a single BSU match. The forward led the club in goals, assists and points and stands fourth in career assists (6), third in goals (10) and third in points (26).

Bemidji State travels to St. Paul, Minn., to take on Bethel College, Aug. 29th at 1 p.m. to start the 2003 campaign. The first home affair sees the Beavers hosting North Dakota, Sept. 19.

2003 NSIC Offensive Players to Watch

Nadia AbuAyed SW Minnesota State 5-8 Jr. F Monticello, Minn.
Laura Finnvik Northern State 5-6 Sr. MF Champlin, Minn.
Amber Frey Minnesota-Crookston 5-6 Jr. F Victorville, Calif.
Lindsay Hartleben Concordia-St. Paul 5-9 So. F Wausau, Wis.
Tanya Mitchell Wayne State (Neb.) 5-2 Jr. F Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
Lindsey Natwick Bemidji State 5-7 So. F Bismarck, N.D.
Maureen Ross MSU-Moorhead 5-7 So. MF Winnipeg, Man.
Kristin Rubsam Winona State 5-7 Sr. MF/F Appleton, Wis.

2003 NSIC Defensive Players to Watch

Nikki Dalka Bemidji State 5-10 Sr. GK Rhinelander, Wis.
Jamie Druggan MSU-Moorhead 5-5 So. D Winnipeg, Man.
Lyndsey Gagas Concordia-St. Paul 5-6 Jr. D Stevens Point, Wis.
Lissa Heaviland Northern State 5-6 So. D Golden, Colo.
Sarah Lepak Wayne State (Neb.) 5-9 Sr. D Green Bay, Wis.
Mira Muikku Minnesota-Duluth 5-7 Sr. GK Halsinki, Finland
Cassie Raushel SW Minnesota State 5-7 So. D Cloquet, Minn.
Briana Rodell Winona State 5-7 Jr. D Glenview, Ill.

2003 NSIC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year
Nicole Fietz Minnesota-Duluth 5-8 Sr. MF Green Bay, Wis.
2003 NSIC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
Emily Herbst Northern State Sr. GK Sheridan, Wyo.

NOTE: Freshman midfielder Christina Hicks (Minnetonka, Minn.) is lost for the season with a torn MCL. Hicks was a four-year soccer letter winner and two-time team captain at Hopkins High School. She helped lead Hopkins to an 11-4-1 record in 2002, the program’s best season in a decade. As a senior, she was first on the team in assists en route to Outstanding Senior Player and team leader honors.

“With her injury, it doesn’t allow us to play everyone in their ideal position,” said Stone. “It makes us weaker off the bench.

“Fortunately, we can adjust to that injury since it happened before the season started. I fully expect to have her come back from the surgery and have a great season as a red-shirt player in 2004.”

Senior goalkeeper Nikki Dalka (Rhinelander, Wis.) was selected as a 2003 NSIC Defensive Player to Watch but will not be with the team in 2003 due to personal reasons. Dalka is the school’s recordholder in nine defensive categories.