Soccer team recreates leadership for 2012 run


The SDSU Soccer team will be exposed to its fair share of adversity right out of the gate for the 2012 season. The Jackrabbits will open up the 2012 season with exhibition games against the University of Minnesota and the University of Nebraska at home in Brookings to kick off one of the toughest non-conference schedules in recent history for SDSU.

“This is one of the toughest non-conference schedules we’ve ever had,” head coach Lang Wedemeyer said. “We’ll be challenged early, but nothing prepares us better for play in the Summit League than a tough beginning to the season.”

In 2011, the Jacks went 12-7-2. Their final loss of the season came in the semifinals of the Summit League Tournament against Oakland University. The loss came just after seven Jackrabbit players were suspended for violating team rules, a situation Coach Wedemeyer hopes to turn into constructive experience.

“We can use it as a learning tool,” said Wedemeyer. “Everybody makes mistakes, but we can use this to redefine the culture of our team.”

The Jacks will also face the challenge of replacing seven graduating seniors. One of the purposes of spring training was to recreate the same sense of leadership that these seniors provided last year. The Jacks will look to mold all returning players into new leaders and build a team around a solid core of veteran returning starters, including newly elected team captain Christa Nyblom. Nyblom will be returning as one of six seniors for SDSU during the 2012 season.

The Jacks will hope to use that experience, in combination with a strong recruiting class, to first qualify for the Summit League Tournament, and then advance to the NCAA championship tournament. The Jackrabbits haven’t been to the NCAA tournament since the 2008 season, when they advanced to second round. The path will not be easy for SDSU this year, since the first four conference games of the season will be played on the road. That stretch of away games will be followed by a four-game stretch in Brookings and a league finale in Omaha against the University of Nebraska-Omaha to close out the regular season. The Summit League Tournament will be hosted in Brookings this year.

The Jacks will be spending the summer preparing for every facet of their 2012 schedule. Physical toughness and mental focus will be stressed in this just as much as any off season, but leadership and team unity will be special emphases this summer.

“We’ve worked hard, and we have to continue our efforts,” Wedemeyer said. “But we’ve focused just as much on our relationship building within the team. Our goal is to always be competitive, qualify for the post season, and then of course, win every game.”