Women’s soccer rebuilding for next season
Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 12:04
The Parkland women’s soccer program looks to continue in the right direction with this year’s incoming class of new recruits.
It will, however, not be an easy task replicating last season's success. "It was a first for a lot of things," Head Coach Josh Alford said.
Alford received Region 24 Coach of the Year honors last season, as the Cobras finished the season 14-2-1, a school record for wins in a season.
Last season also marked the highest ranking a Parkland women's soccer team had ever achieved – No. 8 in the nation. They even made it to the Region 24 championship game.
This past year's team also produced four players named First Team All Region. Sophomore Jenny Musick, the team's second leading scorer, and sophomore Sadie Somers were presented with the honor.
Two freshmen, Prescila Azuaga-the team's leading scorer with 19 goals, and Keren Sharabi were the other winners.
Musick, Somers and the rest of the sophomores will be departing to continue their careers elsewhere.
When asked what he would miss most from those players, Alford responded, "Some of the leadership, some of the strengths."
He points out that 80 - 90 percent of his sophomores have received offers to play at the next level from a variety of schools.
Of those offers received, two have been accepted. Jordyn Koerner has agreed to take her talents to North Carolina where she will play for Division II Mt. Olive. Jenny Musick has accepted an offer to play for Division I Austin Peay.
With those two headed to the next level and the rest sure to follow, the coaching staff has been hard at work recruiting. Alford admits that this year's recruiting process has presented a unique twist.
This past season's success has altered his staff's approach.
"A lot of girls have been knocking on our door to come to our program," Alford said. "Instead of vice versa and me having to go out and pick and weave through girls."
Alford says that there are about ten more girls that wish to play at Parkland.
"It's made things a little bit easier and then challenging in a little bit different way in maybe having to tell more girls no or being picky," Alford said.
There is a strategy in place in terms of the types of girls being recruited.
"We're bringing in a lot of girls that have played time more in an attacking position," Alford said.
The focus is on being an offense-minded team. Athletic, smart girls are the target. Heading up this group is Amanda Stoll out of Madison Consolidated in Madison, IN.
Alford speaks highly of her. "I think she's going to be a force to be reckoned with," he said.
Stoll is a part of Alford's biggest recruiting class to date.
Geneseo's Kelsey Nystom and Alex Radue are representative of that talent. They not only fit the mold of offense-minded players that Alford is looking for, but are very athletic as well.
This is reinforced by their participation in multiple sports in high school in addition to soccer. According to an article on the Geneseo Republic website, Nystom was also selected to play for the U.S. at the United World Games, an Olympic style summer event held in Austria.
"We're going to have to convert some girls to defense," Alford said. With that type of athleticism on the way, hopefully it will be a smooth transition.
There are a couple of players that have been recruited that could possibly make that transition comfortably. Kylie Ameck, an Illinois FC player, and Rebekah Burgan, of Mockingbird FC, have experience similar to the college level playing for club teams.
To sustain this type of recruiting class year after year usually means you have to win year after year. At the junior college level, this is made more difficult by the fact that essentially half of the roster is lost every year.
Players need to be ready immediately but often times there is a learning curve that could affect success. Alford does not see this being an issue.
"We don't want you to take a year to figure things out," Alford said. "We want you to come here and already know."
Several approaches were taken to ensure this could be done.
“We recruited girls that kinda get it and have played in potential formations we might use," Alford said. "We already started a little bit with the summer stuff."
A very important part of this team's success will be the progress of the recruits with the returning players. That year of experience and willingness to lead will be vital.
Alford used the proactive approach in this regard.
"We have placed Keren as one of our captains and Audra Krusz is going to be our other captain," Alford said.
He's confident that these two, along with the rest of the returning freshman, will use that year of experience to not only lead but lead this team to the next level.
"As long as the girls see the big picture, we'll be fine. The light at the end of the tunnel," Alford said.
The head coach is quick to admit that all the pressure isn't on the girls.
"I feel that I was hired to get this program to Nationals," Alford said. He is coaching with a chip on his shoulder. After coming up one game short of Nationals a season ago, he is determined to get to there and do some damage.
There is a good chance it could happen. "I think I’m returning better sophomores than anybody in the region," Alford said. Combined with the talent of his recruiting class, Nationals is a real possibility.