The grind never stops for the Nebraska women’s soccer team. After the Huskers ended their spring season with a 1-0 loss to Colorado on April 22, the minds of coaches and players alike turned to the upcoming August season.

The team had to replace the likes of  Jaycie Johnson, Courtney Claassen, Kelly Schatz and Sydney Miramontez, with all four graduating in May. This summer, Miramontez moved on to the professional ranks, signing with the FC Kansas City Blues of the National Women’s Soccer League.

Replacing the former Huskers are a number of incoming freshmen, with many of them looking to make an immediate impact.

The new Huskers include:

  • Grace Brown, Defender, Iowa City, Iowa
  • Natalie Cooke, Forward, Richmond, B.C.
  • Genevieve Cruz, Forward/Midfielder, Racine, Wis.
  • Kayla Mostowich, Midfielder/Defender, Edmonton, Alberta
  • Theresa Pujado, Midfielder, Harrisburg, S.D.
  • Sarah Thrush, Forward, Sorrento, Fla.
  • Allison Ulness, Midfielder, Moorhead, Minn.
  • Niejia Watkins, Defender, Orlando, Fla.

A number of the freshmen moved in early to begin classes during the summer semester and  jump-start their college soccer careers.

Off the field, many Huskers received recognition for their outstanding academic performance during the 2016-17 academic year, earning Big Ten Distinguished Scholar awards.

These Huskers were:

  • Caroline Buelt, So., Polk City, Iowa, Business Administration
  • Courtney Claassen, Sr., Parkville, Mo., Advertising & Public Relations
  • Lindsay Hargreaves, So., Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, Elementary Education
  • Amanda Hilton, Jr., West Chicago, Ill., Elementary & Special Education K-6
  • Emily O'Neal, So., Dallas, Texas, Psychology (4.0)
  • Alli Peterson, Jr., Iowa City, Iowa, Advertising & Public Relations
  • Alexis Rienks, Jr., Lincoln, Neb., Food Science & Technology

On Aug. 1, the whole team convened to begin practice for the upcoming season. After making the NCAA tournament a year ago, the women’s squad enters the season with high expectations. Aubrei Corder, Haley Hanson and Sinclaire Miramontez were named to the Big Ten Preseason Honors list.

These three Huskers should be key players for the team.

The Big Ten also released the Preseason Coaches’ Poll, with the Huskers pegged to finish seventh.

Poll rankings:

  1. Penn State
  2. Northwestern
  3. Rutgers
  4. Michigan
  5. Minnesota
  6. Wisconsin
  7. Nebraska
  8. Ohio State
  9. Indiana
  10. Illinois
  11. Michigan State
  12. Iowa
  13. Purdue
  14. Maryland

Additionally, an Aug. 4, national coaches’ poll placed the Huskers to finish No. 22 in the country.

After a few weeks of training in preparation for the season, the Huskers had an exhibition match against Colorado College, which they won 3-1. They followed this effort up with regular season wins over Kansas and Tulsa with score lines of 3-0 and 3-1.

The soccer season continues on Aug. 25 as the Huskers host South Dakota. A few more non-conference games against Missouri, Washington State, Montana, San Diego State and Pittsburgh lie ahead before conference play begins.

With the exception of Illinois and Wisconsin, the Huskers play each of the conference opponents between Sept. 15 and Oct. 25, leading up to the Big Ten Tournament in late October.

For now though, the Big Ten Tournament is a long way away, as a lively Husker team turns their attention toward South Dakota on Friday.

Assistant Sports Editor