BURNSVILLE, Minn. - Bemidji State University has been picked to finish third in the 2017 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Preseason Soccer Coaches’ Poll. The league also announced senior forward Raquel Thelen and senior defender Miranda Famestad as ‘Players to Watch’ for the 2017 campaign.
Under head coach Jim Stone, who is entering his 16th season at the helm of the BSU soccer program, the Beavers open the season with their highest preseason billing in program history, matching a No. 3 selection prior to the 2006 campaign when the league was comprised of just 10 teams.
BSU is coming off a 2016 campaign during which it compiled an overall record of 14-5-1 and finished third in the NSIC standings owning an 11-3-1 mark in league play. At the conclusion of the regular season, BSU made its eighth consecutive appearance in the NSIC Tournament and advanced to the semifinal round for the fourth time in school history.
Defending NSIC Tournament champion and NCAA Division II Central Region semifinalist Minnesota State University, Mankato garnered 217 points and 11-of-16 first-place votes to headline the poll and claim the league’s preseason favorite tag for the fifth time since rejoining the league for the 2008 season. Augustana University corralled the other five first place votes finishing a close second with 210 points, 12 points ahead of BSU. Defending regular-season champion Minot State University rounded out the top four with 187 points.
Thelen, a two-time All-NSIC honoree, earned a spot on the First Team in 2016. The Andover, Minn. native was third on the team in scoring with 20 points in 20 appearances. Her career-high 12 assists matched Sarah Stram for a single-season program record, while her nine assists in league play led the NSIC. She also posted four goals, including a game-winner. A valuable part of the Beavers’ attack, BSU was 9-1-0 when Thelen recorded an assist. She posted multi-assist games Sept. 9 and Oct. 1, both were matches BSU won.
Despite missing a large portion of the 2015 season due to injury, Thelen still ranks among BSU’s top 10 all-time in scoring with 40 points on 10 goals and 20 assists in 51 matches for the Beavers.
Famestad, a native of Sioux Falls, S.D., led all BSU defenders and finished fifth on the team in scoring, piling up 10 points in 20 starts in 2016. With a career-high five goals, Famestad accounted for one game-winner. As a center back, she also played a pivotal role in seven shutouts by BSU goalkeepers and was a part of a unit that ranked third in the league in goals allowed.
In 56 games played, Famestad has 11 goals and an assist for 23 points.
The league’s coaches also recognized Minnesota State forward Morgan Cottew as NSIC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and Minot State defender Kelli Cresse as NSIC Defensive Player of the Year.
BSU opens its 2017 regular season Sept. 5, when it travels to Crookston, Minn., for an NSIC contest versus University of Minnesota Crookston. The match is set for a 5 p.m. start. The Beavers open the home portion of their season Sept. 16 when they host Upper Iowa University for a 1 p.m. opening kick at Chet Anderson Stadium.
For more information on the Bemidji State Athletics programs, follow the Beavers on Twitter (@BSUBeavers or @BSUBeaverSoccer), like them on Facebook (facebook.com/BSUBeavers) or sign up for the TXTUpdates from BSUBeavers.com text-messaging system through the "Mulitmedia" pull down menu on the main page of BSUBeavers.com.
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).