The Nebraska women’s soccer team barely started its fall campaign but already gave a promising first impression for the regular season. Ranked 22nd in the United Soccer Coaches’ ranking, the Huskers had a successful opening weekend after defeating Kansas and Tulsa at the Rock Chalk Invitational.
The Cornhuskers knocked off Kansas on Friday, Aug. 18, beating them 3-0. Their momentum carried through Sunday, Aug. 20, with a 3-1 win over Tulsa. NU has an interesting season ahead of them. Coach John Walker, in his 22nd season with the Cornhuskers, has a good balance of veterans and newcomers in the women’s squad.
Senior Haley Hanson set herself up to be one of the team’s spotlights. The Kansas native scored twice during the exhibition game on Aug. 12, leading NU’s offense in its 3-1 victory over Colorado College. She also scored during the Huskers’ last match, another 3-1 win, this time against Tulsa.
Hanson, along with sophomore Aubrei Corder and fellow senior Sinclaire Miramontez, were nominated for the Big Ten Preseason Honors List. The three athletes played the most minutes out of the whole team last season. Corder was on the field for 2,109 minutes while Miramontez and Hanson played 2,088 and 2,059 minutes, respectively.
Corder, a goalkeeper for the Huskers, had a fantastic season in 2016, playing every minute as a true freshman. Corder had a total of 11 shutouts, good for ninth place in the nation, and 78 saves. The great performances led her to three awards for her first season at Nebraska. She was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week in back-to-back weeks on Oct. 18 and Oct. 25, and earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Coming from Richmond, Canada, Natalie Cook could be a good surprise for Husker fans. The freshman Canadian already scored her first goal for NU, hitting the net during the exhibition match against Colorado College. Cook is accompanied by seven other freshmen players in the Cornhuskers’ young squad.
With its mix of both younger players and more experienced ones, Nebraska trusts that Hibner Stadium will be a key for success, in its third year as their home. In its first two seasons, Barbara Hibner Stadium welcomed 25,429 fans in 20 games - an average of 1,271 per match. In regular season competition, Huskers won 12, tied 3 and lost 5 games in the arena.
This season, the Cornhuskers will play nine games at Hibner Field, including tough faceoffs against No. 19 Minnesota and No. 21 Rutgers. In total, Nebraska has 17 games planned for the season. Out of these 17, eight of Nebraska’s opponents qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2016.
With excitement and a promising squad, NU will make its official season debut against South Dakota and Missouri this weekend.