BSU soccer opens 2012 with NMU and MTU
Friday, August 31, 2012
BSU soccer opens 2012 with NMU and MTU

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University soccer team will be looking to fill some voids this weekend as it opens the 2012 campaign with a pair of nonconference contests at BSU Soccer Complex. Saturday, the team hosts Northern Michigan University before a Sunday afternoon tilt versus Michigan Tech. Both games are slated for 1 p.m. starts.

The Beavers look to build upon an 8-8-3 overall record and a 6-4-3 mark in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) play. After a three-way tie for third in the league standings, BSU returned to postseason play, making its third consecutive appearance in the conference tournament, but fell in the first-round playoff game to eventual NSIC/US Bank Tournament Champions and NCAA Tournament participant Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Following the 2011 season, seniors Kathryn Bjorge (D, Prior Lake, Minn.) and Kirsten Erickson (F, Coon Rapids, Minn.) were selected for NSIC honors. Erickson was named Third-Team All-NISC, while Bjorge landed a spot on the honorable mention team. The Beavers also had six players named to the Fall Academic All-NISC team and Senior Brianna Duff (D, Ramsey, Minn.) earned a spot on the Capitol One/College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) College Division Academic All-District First Team.

The 2011 season marked an end of the collegiate careers of nine players. The senior class of Bjorge, Erickson, Duff, Bri Scanlan (M, East Grand Forks, Minn.), Kari McAllen (M, Fargo, N.D.), Analey Skog (F, St. Francis, Minn.), Bethany Fluto (F, Bemidji, Minn.) Abby Kjonaas (GK, Fargo, N.D.) and Kelly Pointon (D, Woodbury, Minn.) accumulated a record of 45-25-7 as Beavers and continued to solidify a tradition of success Head Coach Jim Stone has established in his 10 seasons at the helm of the program.

Stone, now in his eleventh season has brought in 12 freshmen, including four defenders, three forwards, three midfielders, and two goalkeepers for 2012, while he welcomes back 16 players from his 2011 team including five returning starters.  Mary O’ Brien (So., F, Maplewood, Minn.) leads all returning players with seven points (3g-1a) and was tabbed as one of the “NSIC Preseason Players to Watch” along with Samantha Lumberg (Jr., D, Woodbury, Minn.), who started in all 19 games a year ago.

On a roster featuring 20 of 28 players that are sophomore or freshman, Stone will lean heavily on veteran leadership. Tiffany VanHaaften (Jr., M, Chaska, Minn.), Mallory Lowe (Sr., D, Lino Lakes, Minn.) and Maria Mcleod (RS-So., F, White Bear Lake, Minn.) will handle the bulk of the leadership responsibility as the 2012 team captains.

“Competing to be our best” is the team motto for the 2012 season. “We have always competed well together on Saturdays and Sundays in our games but we haven’t always competed against each other enough in training,” Stone said. “I would like for us to continue to be successful and in order to get to another level we need to create a little more of a competitive training environment and see if that will take us where we want to go.”

GOALKEEPERS
BSU will be looking to fill the goalkeeping position this season following the loss of senior goaltender and defensive MVP Abby Kjonaas. Kjonaas finished the 2011 season with a 1.17 goals-against average, 118 saves, seven shutouts, and earned six wins for the Beavers. Kjonaas only allowed 18 goals in 16 games.

Stone has brought in two new goaltenders to make it a total of three on the squad.

Sonja Barr (So., Duluth, Minn.) is the returning goaltender and got some game experience last season. Barr saw action in six games during her freshman campaign and had one complete shutout.

Along with Barr, freshman goalkeepers Brittany Tietz (Aberdeen, S.D) and Kassandra Franke (West Bend, Wis.) will also compete for playing time. Tietz was a five-year letter winner and two-time captain at Central High School in Aberdeen, S.D. and also led the Golden Eagles to a 2011 State Championship. Franke was a two-time All-Little Ten Conference selection, she earned all-conference honorable mention accolades as a sophomore and was a second-team pick in 2011 as a junior.

“I expect our young goaltenders to keep up our tradition of good goalkeeping,” remarked Stone, “I expect them to make us tough to beat defensively. I’m hoping that Sonja, Brittany, and Kassie can step in and continue to do what has always been done--that is good goalkeeping.”

DEFENDERS
Along side Lumberg, Mari Wallestad (So., Ramsey, Minn.) will be looking to anchor the backline. Wallestad was named 2011 BSU Rookie of the Year and started every game last season. Wallestad also scored a game-winning goal last season and added one assist from her defensive position.

The void to fill defensively will be the outside back positions as Duff and Bjorge finished their careers in 2011.

“I think we are going to be solid defensively,” commented Stone. “It’s going to take a little time to gel and for everyone to get on the same page, but I think when we do get on the same page, we are going to be very good.”

Returners for the back line include Lowe, Molly Flahavan, (So., Madison, Wis.), and Kaitlin Pisiak (Jr., Penticton, British Colombia).

Also coming onto the scene in the backfield will be Abigail Nyquist (Golden Valley, Minn.), Melanie Simonson (Rosemount, Minn.), and Carly Dietrich (St. Charles, Ill.). These three newcomers along with the returners will compete for the two starting positions.

MIDFIELDERS
The Beavers will look upon captain VanHaaften to help lead a relatively young. VanHaaften returns to the field this year after having to sit out last season due to a season-ending injury. VanHaaften has a total of four goals as a Beaver.

Along with VanHaaften, Bemidji State welcomes back Rachel Scheller (So., Maple Grove, Minn.), Katie Espe (So., Grand Forks, N.D.), and Alex Petes (Jr., Yorba Linda, Calif.) to the midfield.

Stone will also be looking to call upon newcomers Emily Olson (Stillwater, Minn.), Megan Castro (Winnipeg, Manitoba), Stephanie Brown (Streamwood, Ill.), and Anna Edgren (Apple Valley, Minn.) to provide support in the midfield either off the bench or possibly as starters.

FORWARDS
Offensively, BSU will be looking to replace their top two scorers from 2011, Erickson and Scanlan. Erickson lead the team with nine goals, including five game-winners, and was named the team’s offensive MVP. Scanlan finished with three goals and three assists from the midfield position.

“Offensively I’d like to see more free flowing soccer this year,” Stone said, “I’d like to see us play into the feet more and a little less direct. Ultimately, I’d like us to create more scoring opportunities and see us finish at a higher rate.”

O’Brien logged three goals as a reserve during her freshman campaign and returns for her sophomore campaign as BSU’s top scoring theat. Joining O’Brien on the attack offensively is Jessie Voeller (Jr., White Bear Lake, Minn.). Voeller added two goals and one assist last season. Stephanie Challas (So., Andover, Minn.), Ashley Hensley (So., San Antonio, Texas), Bronwyn Boyd (Jr., Bemidji, Minn.), and Mcleod, who started at a midfield position last season, will also be returning as forwards.

Newcomers Hillary Arechigo (Monticello, Minn.), Bre Sollie (Lakeville, Minn.), and Nicole Parsons (Wyoming, Minn.) are also expected to see some playing time up top.

SCHEDULE

With the addition of Minot State University and University of Sioux Falls to the NSIC the 2012 schedule will look a little different for the Beavers. BSU will play each of the NSIC teams once for a total of 15 conference games along with six nonconference matches for a total of 18 regular-seasons games.

After three exhibition games, the Beavers begins nonconference play with this weekend's doubleheader. Bemidji State will then wrap up its nonconference games on Sept. 7 when it takes on NCAA Division I North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D. in its final pre-NSIC test.

Sept. 9, the Beavers will begin NSIC play at University of Minnesota, Crookston before traveling for a pair of road matches at Concordia University, St. Paul (Sept. 15) and Minnesota State University, Mankato (Sept. 16). Minnesota State was tabbed as the favorite to win the league in the NSIC Preseason Soccer Coaches’ Poll for the third time in five years.

After three conferences matches on the road, the Beavers return home on Sept. 22 and 23 to host Wayne State College and Augustana College before traveling for their first ever meeting with new NSIC member Sioux Falls Sept. 29. The Beavers then end their first full month of games with a trip to Marshall, Minn. to take on Southwest Minnesota State University (Sept. 30).

October starts with a four-game home stand. The Beavers host Minnesota State University-Moorhead and Northern State University Oct. 6-7, before taking on Upper Iowa University and 2011 NSIC Regular-Season Champion Winona State University Oct. 13-14.

The next weekend features an NSIC road game against Minot State on Oct. 23, and University of Mary on Oct. 24. The 2012 seniors will be recognized before the final home game of the season against St. Cloud State Oct. 26 before concluding the regular season on the road with a trip to University of Minnesota Duluth Oct. 28.

The NSIC Tournament begins Oct. 31 with the regular season’s top four seeds hosting seeds No. 5-8 at campus sites. The top team remaining following the quarterfinal round will host the semifinal and championship rounds Nov. 3-4.

--bsu--

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