Aug. 24, 2012
Bearcat soccer excited for breakthrough year
By David Boyce
A passion for soccer is so deeply ingrained in Northwest Missouri State women’s soccer coach Tracy Hoza that it easily spills over to her players.
The Bearcats could face the most dire situation on the field and it wouldn’t dampen Hoza’s positive spirit.
“That’s one of the best parts about her,” Northwest junior goal keeper Kelsey Adams said. “You have to have energy to go on the field. You have to have fun. She ignites the fun. She makes it fun. We play better when we are having fun. She definitely is a big help.”
These days Hoza and the Bearcats have every right to figuratively walk on air because of the good vibe surrounding the soccer program as it prepare for the season opener 2 p.m., Aug. 31st at home against St. Cloud St.
A year ago Northwest finished 10-7-2 overall, 5-3 in the MIAA and won its first-ever conference tournament game.
“I was really excited because last year we were such a good team and we beat a lot of the teams we’ve lost to or tied,” said junior forward Tori Von Mende. “I wish we could have made it further in the tournament. But you win some, you lose some.
“It was really awesome to be part of something that was really great and be remembered for a while.”
Well, the 2012 Bearcats are in position to make more history and create even longer lasting memories because of returners like Adams and Von Mende, coupled with the addition of 10 freshmen.
Northwest was picked to finish fourth out of 13 teams in the MIAA preseason women’s soccer poll. It is quite a climb for a team that went 3-10-5 in 2010.
“It is a good feeling to be picked that high,” Adams said. “That is preseason. You have to go out there and prove it.”
Like all good coaches, Hoza wants her players to focus on what they have to do to meet preseason expectations and not think they have arrived just because they were picked to finish in the upper half.
“It is promising that we were picked fourth, but now we have to act on it,” Hoza said. “It gives the girls a lot of confidence, but hopefully the right confidence that we are headed in the right direction and continue on moving forward and being a good team.”
In Adams and Von Mende, Northwest have a couple of key components that should help the Bearcats start fast. All good soccer teams need a good goal keeper and a striker.
Last season Adams recorded three shutouts. Von Mende, in her first season at Northwest, scored 11 goals, which tied the program’s record for most goals in a season.
“Kelsey is a very athletic player,” Hoza said. “She was able to improve on the athletic side of the game and then you throw in the mix of the mental side and she was a lot more confident on the field. I think she will be a huge part of our success this year.
“Tori came in and scored goals and was a threat. Teams have to have good goalies and good goal scorers. I was very impressed, and Tori is working hard this year. You have to put into play that there are eight or nine players around them that do the work to allow Kelsey and Tori to shine as well.”
The Bearcats are already excelling in the team aspect. With so many new players coming in, there is naturally an adjustment period.
It takes a while for the returners to truly get to know the make-up of the newcomers. It is happening quicker than Von Mende thought.
“I don’t know a lot of the freshmen, but they are super nice,” Von Mende said. “Everybody gets along very well off the field so hopefully on the field it shows.
“Everybody works hard, push each other and is so positive all the time. Everybody gets along already and it has only been a week. I figured it would take a little longer for everybody to warm up to each other. It is really nice.”
In a week, the games begin for the Bearcats. They are ready and excited to get the season started. With Hoza as the coach, that’s a given.
“I’m like really excited because I think we are going to be really good,” Von Mende said. “I’m kind of nervous because we never played against St. Cloud before. I’m excited to see how everybody plays when it comes to actually playing games. I’m super stoked.”
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