An offseason full of grueling workouts and conditioning activities may be just the lift Coach Nikki McLellan’s women’s soccer team needed.
Coming off a 2008 season in which the Fire defeated Illinois College in a 2-1 thriller to take its first conference win in nearly five years, this past spring the Fire soccer players could be seen in the fieldhouse several mornings every week, working to improve their stamina, agility, athleticism and team rapport during captain’s practices and workouts.
“They came in [in good shape] and have gotten better,” McLellan said.
Add a group of talented freshmen, considered to be one of the most highly touted recruiting classes in the history of Knox women’s soccer, and throw in an experienced core of solid athletes, and Knox women’s soccer is off and running.
McLellan identified freshmen Arielle Dorman and Erin Majewski as two that could make an immediate impact on the team’s chances.
“Obviously because [Dorman] is from Seattle, I was not able to see her play, so we had to go off her stats and soccer résumé. But she is going to be one of the top forwards in the conference. She’s a very good player, and we expect big things out of her.
“We didn’t really know what to expect from a lot of the first years because they are so far away [… ] but we were able to get a couple players from the Chicago area. Erin Majewski (Tinley Park) is going to help us out a lot,” McLellan said.
Knox women’s soccer’s five freshmen hail from four different states and China.
Returning players include the spark plug sophomore forward Claire Turner and 2008 team rookie of the year, sophomore Emma Swanson and sophomore goalkeeper Alex Rauland, who, as a freshman, set the all-time Knox record for most saves in a season, a number that stands alone at second all-time in the Midwest Conference.
The Fire expects the experience of their seniors, Rozie Smith and Cassie Milleville to meld with the leadership of the new team captains. Junior Casey Patrick will combine with sophomore and 2008 team MVP Laura Johnson.
McLellan hopes all these components will get the Fire off to a hot start.
“We go away to Indiana this weekend and play Franklin College on Saturday. We played them last year, and it was a very close game (4-3), so we are anticipating a win this year,” said McLellan.
Sunday’s opponent, Hanover College is “a team we’ve never seen before. They are a very good team, but I still think we can come away from the weekend starting off the season 2-0,” said McLellan.