Women’s Soccer: ‘Hawks eye fourth straight WIAC title

 

By Kevin Cunningham

UW-Whitewater head women’s soccer coach Ryan Quamme stepped into his first season at the helm with nothing but high expectations. After finishing the year 16-5-1 while posting an undefeated 8-0 record in conference, Quamme won coach of the year honors and his team won the WIAC regular season for a third consecutive season.

“It was a great first year that set us up for this season,” Quamme said. “Preseason rankings are what they are, so we don’t put too much weight into them, but it’s a credit to where the program is at to be picked to win the WIAC and be ranked nationally.”

This marks the fourth straight season the Warhawks are the preseason favorites to win the WIAC. The team also is ranked 31st nationally in the Bennettranking.com Preseason Poll. The team returns eight starters from last year’s team, including four all-WIAC players.

Two of the four all-WIAC returnees are midfielders, junior Sarah Sedlar and sophomore Jenna Woodson. Senior defender Laren Nashleanas and junior goalkeeper Jordan Myers make up the other two.

One of the seniors coach Quamme lost was WIAC offensive player of the year Christina Tooren. Quamme said the loss of Tooren, last season’s WIAC leader in goals, points, assists and game-winning goals, is irreplaceable, but looks for his team to make up for it in other areas.

“We’re not going to replace Chrissy with one player,” Quamme said. “Our recruiting class is very good, and we plan on replacing her with a platoon, if you want to say. We have some pretty talented young players in that position, so we’re ready for some new fresh blood and people that are ready to get after it.”

While the offensive returnees and recruits may be more than the team could have asked for, the four returning all-WIAC players for the ’Hawks are in the mid and backfield, which should make for a stout defense throughout the course of the season.

Myers posted a 1.16 goals allowed per game average last season, as well as totaling 115 saves and being the winning goalie for each of the ’Hawks 16 wins. Myers said she believes the team’s defense this season will be phenomenal.

“I think our defense is what will carry our team this year,” Myers said. “We have a lot of experience in the back and I have to give kudos to them for keeping the ball away from me, so the defense will help us a lot this season.”

Woodson, who finished her freshman season in second on the team in goals, assists and points last season, knows what will be asked of her this season and knows what the strengths of the team are.

“Last year, I learned how to play off of [Tooren],” Woodson said. “This year we definitely have some freshmen that are going to help fill that gap offensively. The technical abilities of our players this year overall are better. I know we can make a better run than we did last year in the postseason.”

Myers agreed postseason success will make this season be successful or not.

“I feel like it would be a disappointment if we don’t win the WIAC,” Myers said. “I think [Quamme] has done a really good job organizing what our team should look like. He has really set clear expectations for what he wants, and I think it’s great that he sets very high expectations for all of us.”

Quamme knows his defense will be strong and the depth of his team will be really important in determining his team’s success.

“This is the most depth that we’ve had in my six years with the women’s program,” Quamme said. “I’m really excited with how deep we can play and not drop off. Our practices are a lot more competitive, and the girls are training at a great rate. What will have to be consistent for us is our back line. Jordan’s had a fantastic first two years as a starter.”

The first game of the season came Saturday, Aug. 31 against the No. 48-ranked College of St. Benedict Blazers. The game ended in a 2-2 tie, with both teams scoring a goal apiece in each half.

For the ’Hawks, the goals were scored by junior Natalie Lechner in the 43rd minute, while in the 49th minute, Kaitlyn Fritsch’s header off of a corner by senior defender Jessica Allemang scored the final goal of the game. The team outshot the Blazers 24-13, and Myers made five saves for the ’Hawks.

The next game for the team is on the road at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 4 at Concordia University.