Warrior soccer poised for run in 2015

Allison Mueller

Sam Thiel/Winonan

Coming off another successful season, Winona State University’s women’s soccer team has high hopes for an even bigger 2015 campaign.

The Warriors ended the year with a 15-6-2 record and notched their second NCAA Division II Tournament in a row. Winona State made it as far as the second round after defeating Southwest Baptist 4-2 in a shootout.

“It feels great being back on the field and playing soccer with my teammates again,” senior Kati Baker said. “After a summer of doing individual workouts focusing more on conditioning, it is a lot of fun to back on the turf training and playing soccer with 27 of your closest friends.”

Coming back this season are a handful of veterans and youth. With 16 players from last year’s team and another 12 incoming freshmen, the Warriors are primed to achieve their goals.

“We have a lot of goals this season and have very high hopes as to what we can accomplish on the field,” Baker said. “We have 12 talented freshmen this season that will add a lot of depth to our team.”

The team also features nine seniors, with NSIC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year pick Madalyn Jansen leading the charge. Jensen also earned an All-NSIC First Team spot last year.

Goalkeeper Rachel Oleson will defend the front of the net this season after recording 97 saves and allowing just a 0.72 goals against average. The sophomore made the NSCAA All-Region Third Team last season.

The Warriors allowed just 17 goals with a .852 save percentage as a team last season, good enough for a top 40 ranking in Division II.

On the offensive end, Winona State brings back four of its top seven goal scorers, with Baker, Meg Riebau and Nicole Sames leading the way. Also back in Mehan Bolton after she suffered a season-ending injury after just five games.

Baker will be a player to watch on the offensive end this season after tying for the team lead in assists and a tie for third in points with 10, earning her a NSCAA All-Region First Team spot in the process.

“Offensively we are looking to create quality opportunities that we are able to capitalize on throughout the season,” Baker said. “One thing that will help us achieve this is focusing on team defense and hopefully winning the ball higher up the field and putting ourselves in a better position to score.”

When it comes to team chemistry, Baker, Jansen and Riebau are no strangers of playing together; they were all teammates on the Appleton North High School team in Wisconsin.

“Having Madalyn and Meg playing alongside me has created good chemistry for our team because we are so familiar with where each other will be on the field and how we play,” Baker added. “Madalyn plays defense right behind me on the left side of the field. We have played like this for over ten years, which has given us a good understanding of when to play a ball, push up on the attack or drop back on defense.”

“On offense, Meg is great at setting up combination plays and having played with her in high school has allowed me to get a good feel for where she will play a ball or make a run,” Baker said.

Winona State will start the season at home when they face Michigan Tech on Sept. 4.