NEW ULM - The Martin Luther College women's soccer team is coming into the 2012 season with high expectations after coming off of a mediocre season in 2011.
After finishing last season with a record of 8-8-1, the Knights were picked to finish sixth in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference preseason poll, which was released last Friday. The Knights are looking to exceed this prediction and make the UMAC postseason tournament this year by finishing in fourth place or better in the regular season.
The Knights are looking for another big offensive year from returning starters Bethany Schultz and captain Hannah Mattek.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Hannah Mattek is a key returning player for Martin Luther College this season.
Schultz led the Knights in goals (six), points (15), shots (75) and shots-per-game (4.41) in 17 games, and also tied for the team lead with three assists. She led the conference in shots-per-game and ranked second in shots.
Mattek was tied for second on the team with four goals and also tied Schultz for the team lead in assists with three in 16 games. Both Schultz and Mattek received All-UMAC honors in their first two seasons.
Mattek is confident the Knights' offense will wreak havoc on opposing defenses this year.
"We are really offensive minded this year," Mattek said. "We have a lot of really good forwards this year who are going to be looking to score a lot."
On defense the Knights must replace three starters from last year, two of whom were All-UMAC performers. They will look to returning starters Alydia Lee and captain Emily Marggraf to bolster their defense. Jessica Lomker, who started for the Knights in 2009 and 2010, will also be looking to contribute again after taking the 2011 season off.
MLC is also looking to several newcomers to make early contributions.
Captain Cassie Krug is excited to start the season and has high hopes for her team this year.
"I'm really excited," Krug said. "We have a lot of potential with a lot of good freshmen coming in this year who are looking to step up. I think that we are going to have a great season."
The Knights kick off their season on Saturday when they play at Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee.