2011 Women's soccer
2011 Women's Soccer Preview
Bluffton seniors excited about 2011 season
August 16, 2011
With no losses due to graduation and an experienced core of returners on the pitch,
the 2011 Bluffton University women's soccer team expects to pick up where it left
off last season when the Beavers lost just one of their last seven contests, a 1-0
setback to Hanover in the season finale. Bluffton just missed out on its first ever
berth in the Heartland Conference tournament, but 14 returning letterwinners, including
five seniors, have the Beavers primed to continue their recent improvement. Head Coach
Rick Nussbaum, starting his second season at the helm, is striving to, "Give the seniors
a season they deserve for the work they have done to establish Bluffton's current
New to Bluffton this season is first-year graduate assistant Abby Skoda. "Abby brings a strong background in personal training and fitness to the program," stated Nussbaum. Skoda also has a penchant for fostering team unification in her athletes. Being able to relate to the players and serve as a positive role model for the women are strengths that will benefit the team both on and off the field.
A group of five seniors will set the tone for a team that has lacked a senior presence for the past few seasons. Kourtney Lewis (Arlington/Riverdale) and Catie White (Lima/Central Catholic), a pair of three-year starters, provide the Beavers with experience and physicality from their respective positions. White patrols the backfield while Lewis will be counted on for the development of scoring opportunities as an attacking midfielder and forward. Lyndsay Nelson (St. Marys/Memorial) and Megan Denoi (Bryan) keep the defense cohesive as they draw on their experiences from the past three seasons. Monique DeVol (Lancaster/Bloom-Carroll) has given Bluffton valuable minutes throughout her career and she provides the Beavers with depth up front.
Junior midfielder Maddie Moore (Berne, IN/South Adams) is a talented offensive player who is able to both score and distribute the ball. She finished 2010 with nine points, including four goals. Sophomore defender Aimee Whitmer (Tontogany/Otsego) is a physical enforcer who also has the ability to create scoring opportunities for her team from outside the box. Sophomore Megan Moreo (Spencerville/Delphos Jefferson) returns after leading Bluffton with six goals and five assists last season. Looking to give the Beavers another scoring threat in the midfield is freshman Amanda Hunsberger (Shipshewana, IN/Westview).
After a freshman season in which she showed continuous improvement, Maggie Armstrong (Vevay, IN/Switzerland County) will again spearhead the defense in goal. She helped the Beavers establish a school-record 558:49 minute shutout streak last season. The Beavers will count on their defense to be a strength with a group of returners who have seen significant minutes on the pitch. On the other end of the field, Coach Nussbaum expects the Bluffton goals to be spread throughout a number of his players, making it difficult for opponents to hone in on a single threat.
Depth is one area that looks to be significantly improved in 2011 with the addition of 10 freshmen to a squad that already contains 14 returners. "The large group of newcomers will give Bluffton depth that we have never had for practice or matches," stated Coach Nussbaum. "Our veterans need to mentor the incoming freshman, instilling a lasting legacy and a drive to excel." Nussbaum is confident that the team will continue to raise its standards and expectations as the competition in and outside of the HCAC is also improving each year.
With the Beavers narrowly missing out on the conference tournament a season ago, the fire is burning to take it to the next level. Bluffton was selected sixth in the pre-season coaches poll, but expectations here are much higher with the 2011 campaign rapidly approaching. In a conference that features Transylvania and Earlham, the Beavers have the talent and experience to compete for a berth in the HCAC tournament thanks to the work and leadership of a senior class that has seen positive improvement each year.