2016-17 Season Outlook
The women’s soccer program is no stranger to success and the 2016 season will continue in that pattern. The Trolls are coming off a season in which they advanced to the NCCAA National Championship and were also one of the contenders in the conference standings. Continuing to add talent to their squad and to look for improvement, the 2016 team is ready for success.
Last year the Trolls finished the season with a 14-8-1 overall record and at 7-5 in the conference. Josh Lenarz, who is in his 15th year as head coach, anticipates another positive year. He likes the improvement the team made last year and is optimistic about the prospects of that trend continuing. He respects the talent of the teams in the conference, but believes that his team can be competitive.
“The talent and competition in our conference continues to get stronger,” said Lenarz. “We hope to put ourselves in a position to compete with every team and qualify for the post-season play.”
The roster this year is a good mixture of returning players as well as new talent. There are a total of 24 players of which 16 are returning, one is a sophomore transfer, and seven are incoming freshmen. The team has great experience with a class of six seniors that will provide leadership. A number of the other returners gained valuable experience last season and will come into their own this year. In addition, the newcomers are a talented group and any number of them can step in to contribute.
“The team dynamics and chemistry are great this year,” commented Lenarz. “It is a great atmosphere in which to coach and the players’ attitudes have created a positive start to the season.”
The Trolls have good balance on the field with experience returning in each position. The core of returners will provide the stability and other players will complement their play to give the team an overall cohesiveness.
The team will be especially strong in the forward position with the return of their two leading scorers, senior Kayla Diemer (Alto, Michigan) and sophomore Jessica Bianchi (Elmhurst, Illinois). They were leaders in the conference last year and now, having one year of playing with each other, will make a stronger combination this season. Diemer, who earned all-conference honors last season, is the team’s leading returning scorer with 17 goals and six assists a year ago. For the past three seasons she has been a major part to the team’s offense with a total of 45 career goals. Bianchi led the team with 10 assists a year ago while also scoring 14 goals. She earned NCCAA All-Region and All-American Honorable Mention honors.
Giving support to the front line is sophomore Jessica Owen (Caledonia, Michigan), who was in the starting line-up for 10 games last year and proved to be an offensive contributor with four goals and one assist, and freshman Abbigal Nienhuis (Zeeland, Michigan).
On the other end of the field for the Trolls is a group of defenders that provide stability, talent, and experience in the back line. Senior Samantha Burgess (Byron Center, Michigan) is a four-year starter and has been a part of 27 career defensive shut-outs. Last year she was named all-conference second-team. Senior Kirstynn Yanik (Palmdale, California) also has three previous years of starting experience. Sophomore Elly Brummel (Hudsonville, Michigan) was a starter last season and provides solid play and tenacious effort. She can also move into the midfield to help direct play.
The defensive efforts also include junior Sierra Christopher (Irvine, California), who started in the goal in half of the games last season and will be starting goalkeeper this season. A year ago she posted a 1.42 goal against average with 55 saves and three shut-outs. She continues to better her game and looks good coming into preseason. Freshman Lindsey Dykema (Byron Center, Michigan) will provide additional goalkeeping coverage.
Adding strength and depth to the defense are a couple of additional returners as well as a newcomer. Junior Tori Rivas (Pasadena, California) was a defensive starter last season and sophomore Lexi Zambrano (Loves Park, Illinois) gained experience in her rookie season. Freshman Alexa Miller (Lakewood, California) brings her talent to the back line and can provide solid minutes.
The leadership in the midfield comes from a group of seniors. Tarryn South (Zeeland, Michigan) and Cassidy Bosselaar (Alto, Michigan) have been in the starting line-up and know what it takes to be successful. In addition to controlling the ball and flow of the game, they add to the scoring threat. Last season South scored four goals and registered two assists and Bosselaar had three goals. In addition Katy Long (DeMotte, Indiana), who is in her second season with the Trolls, brings depth to the position.
A couple of other key returners in the midfield are a pair of sophomores, Sarah Fenton (Temecula, California) and Skye Bryant (Riverside, California) gained valuable experience last season and will be in the mix this season. Also returning are junior Brenna Cesmat (Gilbert, Arizona), a utility player, and sophomore Lexi Hernandez (Lockport, Illinois).
Of the new group of student-athletes to the midfield, Taylor Miller (Lakewood, California) will make an impact and have a significant role as the center midfielder. Sophomore transfer Tiffany Jackson (Temecula, California) will also become a contributor on the field and has the ability to score. Adding to that mix are freshmen Nicole Faulkner (North Bend, Ohio), Shaelyn Postmus (Hudsonville, Michigan) and Lexxy Trujillo (Chino Hills, California).
The 2016 season opens for the Trolls on August 18-19 in Georgia where they will face Point University and Warner University (FL). The team will play four more non-conference games, including their home opener with Indiana Tech on August 26, before beginning their 12-game conference schedule. The CCAC opener is on September 17 at Judson University. The conference competition will again be strong with a handful of teams receiving national recognition. Along with Trinity, some of the other top runners will be St. Ambrose University, Olivet Nazarene University, and Robert Morris University-Illinois. However a number of other programs may work into that mix as the CCAC teams continue to get stronger. At the end of the regular season the teams will begin conference tournament play on November 5.