Women’s soccer team returns strong offense, rising defense for 2013 season

NEW ULM – As a new season begins for the Martin Luther College women’s soccer team, the returning firepower on offense is vying to lead the under-the-radar Knights into the postseason tournament.

One year after finishing 6-12 overall and 5-9 in conference, the Knights head into the new season predicted to finish sixth in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference. Having been picked sixth in the preseason, coach Jeff Schone and the Knights believe they can be at least one of the top four teams in the UMAC.

“I’m hopeful for this new season,” Schone said. “We have no weak spots on offense, we are fully loaded. Our defense will be much of the same from last year, but probably a little faster.”

Returning to lead the charge for her last season is senior Bethany Schultz. Schultz, a returning first-team All-UMAC selection scored seven goals and assisted on six others. In her three year career, Schultz has totaled 25 goals and 19 assists so far.

“I hope to be a bigger offensive threat,” Schultz said. “I also hope to leave the team with some helpful advice and the confidence to be successful in the years to come.”

Also returning on the offensive front is junior forward Lauren Maertz. Maertz, a returning All-UMAC honorable mention last year, led the Knights with 10 goals a season ago.

“[Maertz] was an offensive threat every time we had the ball,” Schone said. “So teams also have to account for her. She is a very forceful and powerful player and this year she may even do more than she did last year.”

Sophomore Casey Sauer also returns for the Knights. Sauer scored a pair of goals in an injury-hampered season a year ago, but is healthy and ready to go this year.

“Casey is a very active and talented midfielder,” Schone said. “This year she doesn’t have those injuries to deal with, so teams might know much about what she can do.”

Newcomers Alexandra Hastings and Jenna Maurer will also give the Knights added weapons on offense.

Leading the defense for the Knights is Alydia Lee. Like Schultz, Lee is in her fourth season as a starter.

Lee, an honorable mention All-UMAC selection a year ago, scored a pair of goals last year, but more importantly is the anchor of the defense.

Another returning piece to the defense for the Knights is junior goalkeeper Keely Keese.

“[Keese] has studied, she has worked, she has trained to learn the goalie position,” Schone said. “Her form, her ability, her courage are top-notch. I think she is poised to have a big year.”

With the loaded offense and the up-and-coming defense, the Knights are poised to make a run at some postseason action.

“Making it into the top four and playing in the season tournament would be a great way to end my collegiate career,” Schultz said. “We have come close in the past, and I believe that this year we have both the skill and mindset to make the top four.”

The Knights take the pitch for the first time Thursday in Storm Lake, Iowa, in a match against Buena Vista.

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