Soccer springs toward 2014 goals in scrimmages

By ROBERT MYERS Sports Editor

 As the weather finally warms, the soccer spring season is heating up with the Jacks having competed in a pair of scrimmages against University of Northern Iowa and Creighton University on Saturday.

“I think they were pretty indicative of spring season,” said head coach Lang Wedemeyer. “Everybody got to play. We had some very good moments and some moments where we could have done better. I don’t think any of the three teams scored a goal in any of their games so it was a defensive deadlock, which is something that we’ve got to get a little better at.”

Their first scrimmage on March 1 was against the University of Nebraska. Because of the recent weather, practice conditions have not always been ideal, but Wedemeyer said he was proud of how the girls have handled things.

“We’ve been kind of hit and miss,” Wedemeyer said. “We’ve been a day outdoors and a day indoors. We’ve had to battle some wind and cold, those types of things, just to be able to practice on grass. But the girls, they’ve been great with the flexibility and handling the mentality of trying to get better each day.”

Though none of the spring scrimmages count towards any sort of title, the scrimmages and practices are giving Wedemeyer’s young team a chance to improve themselves ahead of next fall.

“I think all of the girls have been coming along,” Wedemeyer said. “Their strength numbers are great. They’re getting faster. They’re learning the game better. I think that it’s really indicative. It’s a little harder to tell right now. I think where you’ll see most of the gains is what happens in the fall.”

In February, Wedemeyer signed eight freshmen for 2014, including Amber Greely (forward), Nicole Hatcher (forward/midfielder), Samantha Koepp (defender/midfielder), Julia Lam (midfielder), Bianca Madonia (midfielder), Tori Poole (forward), Jennie Scislow (defender/midfielder) and Emily Sutliff (forward).

“I think we’ve got a great group of girls coming in, not only very good soccer players but just good people, good students,” Wedemeyer said. “There’s a lot of talent there. How quickly they make that adjustment to college soccer remains to be seen but we know that a lot of these girls are going to make impacts for us.”

One strong focus this year is in the attacking positions as the Jackrabbits are seeking to generate more offensive than they did in the fall. The incoming class will also seek to follow the footsteps of their predecessors and make immediate impacts on the playing field. 

In 2013, the team finished second to a nationally ranked Denver Pioneers team in the regular season standings, but Wedemeyer is very optimistic that the Jackrabbits will be able to challenge for the Summit League title. 

“I think the girls we have right now are capable of doing it,” Wedemeyer said. “I think when you bring in the next class and you bring us together, I think we are more than capable of winning the Summit League next year.” 

The Jackrabbits have three home scrimmages on the schedule this month, beginning with Southwest Minnesota State on April 16 and continuing with Augustana College on April 23 before concluding with the Alumni Game on April 26.