2012 Women's Soccer Preview
Author: Wendy Reid
Posted: Friday, August 24, 2012 at 12:25 PM
The 2011 season was another monumental one for the Olivet Nazarene University women’s soccer program. The Tigers won both the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference’s (CCAC) regular-season and tournament titles and advanced to the second round of the NAIA National Championship for the first time in school history. Ranked No. 7 in the final NAIA Top 25 poll, the Tigers expect another record-breaking season in 2012.
The Tigers will play perhaps their toughest schedule in program history, and they’ll do so without center midfielder Janel Schmitt, who earned NAIA All-American First Team honors before graduating. Schmitt will be missed, but the team returns nine starters, including Meghan Pipal, who scored eight goals in 2011 on her way to being named to the NCCAA All-American Second Team. Meanwhile, Katie Dirkse and Katrina Holm return to anchor a defense that also includes Wendy Espejel and Rachel Kilbry, who were each named NAIA All-American Honorable Mentions a season ago.
The Tigers will also introduce nine newcomers. Offering both speed and intensity, freshmen forwards Liz Wahl, Betsy Hetrick, Sarah Lentini-as well as sophomore transfer McKenzie Hengesh-are sure to provide ample scoring opportunities. In the midfield, Maddy Kauzlarich, Michelle Ditchfield and Sarah Fazio will all add depth. Freshman Amanda Siciak, a six-foot freshman, is the team’s latest goalkeeper addition.
Highlights of this year’s schedule include two road trips to Tennessee, the first to compete against Olivet’s sister Nazarene schools in Nashville. The second, in Cleveland, Tenn., will pit the Tigers against top-ranked Lee University (Tenn.), the four-time defending national champions. The Tigers also host No. 9 Hastings College (Neb.) and play Roosevelt University (Ill.) and Purdue University-North Central (Ind.), two new members of the CCAC.
With both a strong incoming freshman class and backbone of returning experienced players, the Tigers are on track for making school history once again. The program’s goal is to continue a tradition of excellence both on and off the field while doing all things for the audience of the One who matters most. They want to win championships, but more importantly, develop champions.