Nebraska Wesleyan placed second in the Great Plains Athletic Conference each of past two years, and that’s exactly where the GPAC women’s soccer coaches are predicting the Prairie Wolves will land again in 2005. The team and Head Coach Taylor Haynes, however, have loftier aspirations. Click here to see GPAC Preseason Poll.
“Despite finishing second in the conference last year, we feel like we have a lot to prove,” Haynes said. “Our goal is to meet our maximum potential as a group and have fun while doing it.”
Hastings College, winner of the past two GPAC titles, is picked to three-peat, but the Nebraska Wesleyan women were the last team in the league to defeat the Broncos (Oct. 22, 2003), and they have their sights set on a little hardware of their own.
All 11 starters return for the Prairie Wolves, and experience out of the gate should help them in their bid for a GPAC title and the team’s first-ever bid to the NCAA Division III Championships. NWU faces four of its six Div. III opponents in the first two weeks of the season, and hosts Hastings in just its second conference tilt (Sept. 20). Click here to see NWU's 2005 Women's Soccer Schedule.
“We need to play well in our Division III games, no exceptions,” Haynes said. “I’m predicting a much-improved conference, and everyone seems to bring their best stuff when they play us.”
According to Haynes, who is a graduate of Hastings College himself, losing only two seniors from 2004 is a major plus. He will rely on his juniors and seniors to carry the team.
“Our strength is in our upperclassmen,” Haynes said. “Most of them have been starting and playing big minutes since their first season here. They will carry us when the going gets tough.”
Haynes also has a talented recruiting class coming in this season, which includes Monica Hilger, Vicki Koke and Wendy Soenksen.
Hilger was the team captain of Lincoln Pius X’s state championship team, which Haynes said was the best team in the state regardless of class. Both Koke and Soenksen have been members of state championship teams either at the club or high school level as well.
“The best part about our team is they are great students, and our incoming class is no exception,” Haynes said. “They will have to work hard to get in the line-up, which will make them grow and become great players.”
NWU returns 15 letter winners and seven All-Conference performers from last season when the Prairie Wolves went 11-6-2 (7-2-2 GPAC).
“This is the most talented group I’ve ever coached,” Haynes said. “I feel honored to be the head coach of this team, and I know they can be one of the greatest, if not the best ever to play at Nebraska Wesleyan. The truth is, it is entirely up to them.”
Last spring, the NWU women selected their team captains for the 2005 season. They are Stephanie Anderson, Kristen Lamoreaux, Lindsay Priefert, Molly Shields and Sara Wulff.
“I fully expect them to lead the team, especially the incoming players, on and off the field,” Haynes said. “At Nebraska Wesleyan, each player is expected to set a good example and give her best effort. We have a tradition of excellence here and the women’s soccer team is a big part of that.”