2018-19 Season Outlook

The 2018 women’s soccer team has much to be excited about as they look forward to the season. The Trolls finished last year with a 19-3 record, a CCAC Tournament Championship title, and an appearance in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round. With the majority of their rosters and starters returning and a stellar incoming class, the team hopes to stay on the top of the conference standings and make a return trip to a national tournament. They enter the season receiving votes in the NAIA Coaches’ Preseason Poll.

“This season could be one of those special years,” said 17th year head coach Josh Lenarz. “I am extremely optimistic about our talent and what we might be able to accomplish this year. We have set our goals high and will work to accomplish those.”

The Trolls will have plenty of talent to call upon for the season with a roster of 26 players. That list includes 18 returning players, including eight in the starting line-up last year, as well as eight new freshmen.  They will be strong in every position and have veteran leadership across the field.  The one position they do not return a starter is in the goal, but the team’s strong defense will provide great support for the untested goalkeeper.

“We have great leadership with team captains in the forward, midfield, and defensive positions,” commented Lenarz. “I love our balance this year and believe that we have more support in each position. In addition, for the past two years we have had very good recruiting classes and this year’s group is above average.”

The Trolls have the offensive power and depth to be a consistent threat. The offensive charge will be centered around forward senior Jessica Bianchi (Elmhurst, Illinois), the 2017 CCAC Player of the Year. A year ago she led the team and the conference with 33 goals while also adding 12 assists. She earned numerous honors, including NAIA All-American Honorable Mention, and ranked in the top five in NAIA in total goals and points. She will continue to be a scoring weapon this season as she developed her game over the summer playing in high level competition.

While Bianchi is a major offensive threat, she will have help in the scoring department this year. Overall the team will be able to call on a number of players and will keep opposing defenses busy.  Two of those scoring dangers come from incoming freshmen Selah Hopkins (Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada) and Brianna Uhl (Upland, California). These two forwards are new to collegiate soccer, but they will make an impact immediately.

The midfield group also adds to the attacking presence with proven and new players. Senior Jessica Owen (Caledonia, Michigan), a team captain, scored six goals last season while also providing six assists. She knows how to distribute the ball and can find ways to score.  Junior Taylor Miller (Lakewood, California), a starter for the past two seasons, earned all-conference honors last year. She is a strong, steady force and can command the ball and direct play. Last season she tallied six goals and had five assists.  

Junior Shaelyn Postmus (Hudsonville, Michigan) and sophomores Drew McCarthy (Sun City, California) and Marissa Fields (Menifee, California) are returning starters in the midfield. A year ago Postmus scored three goals and had three assists, McCarthy had four goals and four assists, and Fields added one goal and four assists. Adding talent and factoring into the line-up is sophomore Paige Rogers (Bakersfield, California), who missed part of last season to injury rehabilitation.

Also bringing experience and depth to the midfield is junior Lexxy Trujillo (Chino Hills, California), who played in almost every game last season, and sophomore Easton Armstrong (Fontana, California), who started in three games a year ago. In addition junior Nicole Faulkner (North Bend, Ohio) and sophomore Ava Gomez (Huntington Beach, California) return to the midfield.

Along with that strong core of returners are a few newcomers who can contribute. Miranda Kortenhoeven (Denver, Colorado) comes from a state champion high school team and has strong potential. Erika Perez (Chula Vista, California) and Sara Shea (Modesto, California) will also make a difference.

On the defensive end of the field the Trolls also have experience and leadership. Last year this group gave up only 22 goals for a 1.00 goal against average and they posted seven shut-outs. Anchoring that group is senior captain Elly Brummel (Hudsonville, Michigan), who received all-conference honors a year ago. She is a very steady influence in the back line and is able to stop the opponents’ offensive threat.  Also returning to the starting line-up is Kaleigh Van Elst (Grandville, Michigan). The sophomore made a difference last year in her rookie season and will called on this year to continue with that strong play.

Bringing additional experience to the defense is senior Lexi Zambrano (Loves Park, Illinois), who also fluctuates to play a forward position where she scored five goals and had three assists last year. Midfielders McCarthy and Armstrong can also play the back line to provide added depth. Junior Alexa Miller (Lakewood, California) is another versatile player that benefits the defense and the midfield. Sophomore Peyton Richmond (Rancho Cucamonga, California) gained experience in 18 games last season and can fill a defensive spot this year.

In addition the defense gains rich depth with incoming freshmen Katie Drenth (Cave Creek, Arizona), Autumn Bergemann (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), and Alexis Wright (Bakersfield, California).

The final line of the defense will be held by the team’s two goalkeepers. Sophomore Allyson Kranstz (Portage, Michigan) will get the nod for the starting position. A year ago she was a back-up keeper for the team and entered four contests. She also played in four junior varsity games. Junior Lindsey Dykema (Byron Center, Michigan) has served as a back-up keeper for the past two years and has the ability to step in when needed.

The Trolls have an 18-game schedule that is road heavy with only seven home contests. The schedule will test the team as they play well at home and were 14-0 on their own turf last year. Overall the schedule is stronger than last years as they have added a few more non-conference opponents that will challenge them.  One of those new contests this year comes in the Trolls’ season opener on August 25 at home against Missouri Baptist University. Also in the early season the team travels to Iowa where they will play three games in four days. Two of those games will be back-to-back days at Dordt College and Northwestern College.

Trinity’s conference schedule includes 11 games. They open CCAC play on September 18 in a home contest with Cardinal Stritch University, the team they faced in the CCAC Tournament Championship a year ago. Cardinal Stritch, as well as Olivet Nazarene and St. Ambrose University, will be the teams at the top of the conference standings. The Trolls will be right in that mix and will challenge for the conference title. Trinity plans to be in action when post-season play begins on November 3.