2017-18 Season Outlook

It looks to be another promising year for , in his 16th season as the head coach, and the women’s soccer team. For the past two seasons the team has advanced to the NCCAA National Championship and post-season play in their sights for the 2017 season as well. The team is also looking to make gains in their conference play and to be a contender for a conference title.

“Each year we strive to be the best team that we can be and put ourselves in position to be playing through November,” said Coach Lenarz. “Our conference competition continues to be strong and we look forward to contending with those teams.”

A year ago the Trolls were 11-7-3 overall and at 7-3-2 in the conference they finished in fifth place in the standings. They were knocked out of the CCAC Tournament in the quarterfinal round. They went on to represent the North Central Region at the NCCAA National Championship, where they were 1-1 in their pool play.

From that 2016 squad the Trolls graduated five significant starters, who were all four-year athletes in the program. Their talent and leadership will be missed, however Lenarz is confident that he will be able to fill their positions and put together a strong team this season. His optimism comes from the 16 returning players on the squad which includes six experienced starters. Along with those returning players are 12 incoming freshmen to increase his total roster size to 28 players.

“I am excited about this year’s team and what they might accomplish,” commented Lenarz.  “We have returners who can get the job done and an exceptional incoming class that will strengthen the program.”

The team will have veterans in every position on the field and will provide a good balance. They also have depth on the bench that will contribute to the overall effectiveness of the team. In addition the new players will complement the needs of the team and give the Trolls a strong presence both offensively and defensively.

On the offensive end of the field the team has the ability to put goals in the net and provide attack from a variety of individuals.  Leading the group will be junior Jessica Bianchi (Elmhurst, Illinois), who was the leading scorer from last season with 17 goals and seven assists. A year ago she earned All-Conference, NAIA All-American Honorable Mention, and NCCAA All-American honors and ranked in the top three in the CCAC and top 25 in the NAIA in goal average, assists average, and in points. She will be the go-to person this season and has the speed and skills to get the job done.

Adding to the front line attack is junior Jessica Owen (Caledonia, Michigan), a returning starter at forward or midfield. She scored one goal and had three assists a year ago and has the ability to put shots on goal. Also returning to the offense are sophomore Abbigal Nienhuis (Zeeland, Michigan) and junior Lexi Zambrano (Loves Park, Illinois), who scored two goals a year ago.

Making an impact in the forward position will be freshman Jadyn Wilson (Tulare, California). She comes from a three-time league championship team at Central Valley Christian High School and earned all-league honors for four seasons. Her presence and skill set will make her a great complement to Bianchi in the front line.

Strengthening the offensive and transitioning into the attack will be a strong group of midfielders. They will be led by sophomore Taylor Miller (Lakewood, California), a returning starter. She provides leadership and a strong foot that gives her the ability to feed the ball up the field as well as to score. Last year she has a total of 12 points with four goals and four assists.

Providing great depth to the midfield is a number of returners. Those returning players are junior Sarah Fenton (Temecula, California), who has experience in the starting line-up, senior Brenna Cesmat (Gilbert, Arizona), junior Lexi Hernandez (Lockport, Illinois), sophomore Lexxy Trujillo (Chino Hills, California), sophomore Shaelyn Postmus (Hudsonville, Michigan), who scored four goals in her rookie year, and sophomore Nicole Faulkner (North Bend, Ohio).

The midfield talent does not end there as a number of newcomers will also make an impact to that area of the field.  Freshmen Paige Rogers (Bakersfield, California), Marissa Fields (Menifee, California), and Chloe Smith (Bryon Center, Michigan), and Drew McCarthy (Sun City, California) have the skill to move in to the starting line-up and be a significant part of the team’s success. In addition freshmen Ava Gomez (Huntington Beach, California) and Easton Armstrong (Fontana, California) will provide midfield depth.

Defensively the Trolls will be very solid with three returning starters from a squad that gave up only 23 goals in 21 games and posted eight shut-outs. Senior Tori Rivas (Pasadena, California) is experienced and provides stability. Junior Elly Brummel (Hudsonville, Michigan) has been a starter for the past two seasons and gives great leadership.  Senior Sierra Christopher (Irvine, California) returns to the goal where she posted a 1.12 goal against average a year ago.

Also returning to the back line is sophomore Alexa Miller (Lakewood, California). In addition Zambrano can fill in as defender as well. The newcomers to the defense will be freshmen Kaleigh VanElst (Wyoming, Michigan), who will be a factor in the starting line-up, Peyton Richmond (Rancho Cucamonga, California), and Aubrey Weedman (Aliso Viejo, California).

Along with Christopher in the goal, the team also returns sophomore Lindsey Dykema (Byron Center, Michigan), who played in five games last season. Strengthening the position is freshmen Emily Ponstein (Hudsonville, Michigan), who played on a three-time state championship team at Unity Christian High School and was named a Michigan Top 25 Player as a high school senior, and Allyson Kranstz (Portage, Michigan), who earned all-state honors and played on a runner-up state team.

The Trolls start their 2017 season with four straight home contests and then are on the road for four games. Their season debut is against Clarke University on August 22 at the Schaaf Athletics Complex. The team will face seven non-conference opponents before beginning their 11-game conference schedule. That CCAC opener is at Cardinal Stritch University on September 20. Trinity’s CCAC schedule is heavy on the home games with seven of their conference games at home, including home field contests every Saturday in October. Overall, the conference competition will once again be tough as the teams become more competitive across the board. The CCAC favorites include Olivet Nazarene University, Robert Morris University-Illinois, Cardinal Stritch University, and St. Ambrose University. The Trolls look to be among those top competitors at the end of the regular season as the teams head into the conference tournament that starts on November 3.