MOUNT PLEASANT – The Iowa Wesleyan College men’s and women’s soccer teams will waste no time at all in challenging themselves against some of the NAIA’s best in 2009.
The Tigers open their season with a trip to Nebraska for matches Saturday and Sunday. First up: Bellevue University of Omaha, a school with a pair of teams in or near the national rankings.
The Bruins men are ranked 12th .in the NAIA preseason men’s soccer coaches’ poll, while the Bellevue women are rated 30th in the initial women’s poll, finishing five spots outside of the top 25. The Bellevue women met IWC in Mount Pleasant last year and won 3-0 in the first meeting ever between the schools, while the Bruin and Tiger men’s teams are meeting for the first time ever this year.
Wesleyan will continue its trip with a pair of matches on Sunday against Dana College of Blair, Neb., another school with solid soccer programs. The Dana men finished fourth in the Great Plains Athletic Conference last year and were 15-5-3 overall on the season. The Viking women also finished in the top half of the GPAC, tying for fifth and finishing 9-9-1 overall.
The IWC women’s soccer team is coming off a 4-14-1 season last year but returns with a great deal more experience in 2009. Eight sophomores return this year, and all were either frequent starters last year or were starting before injuries derailed their seasons.
Junior Jessica Ryan (Burlington, Iowa) tied a school single-season record last year with 10 goals scored and ranked among the Midwest Collegiate Conference leaders in scoring. She is on track to break the school records in goals and points scored by the middle of her senior season, records that have stood since Jaimee Cushman finished her four-year career in 2001 with 29 goals and 69 points.
Senior Karly York (Waukee, Iowa) and sophomore Jillian Sulcer (Mechanicsburg, Ill.) both received honorable mention All-MCC recognition last year, the only two players to receive postseason honors. York has received all-conference mention three straight years, and she and Deandra Franzisi (Sr.-Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) are the two fourth year seniors on the team who have been mainstays in the lineup the past three years.
Britni Walker (Loveland, Colo.) is the third senior returning from last season and started 14 matches on defense last year. Other seniors include Georgetta Lewis (St. John’s, Antigua) and Jennie Mitchell (LaGrange, Ga.), who played for the IWC women’s basketball team the past two years. Cara Arnold (So.-Davis Junction, Ill.) will be the goalkeeper after finishing 4-11-1 with a 2.57 goals against average last year.
Ed Heberling returns for his seventh year coaching the Tiger women’s soccer team. This year he also has added duties as the Wesleyan men’s soccer coach, taking over for longtime coach Michael Sheerin. The men finished 4-16 last season and, like the women, placed ninth in the MCC last year.
Jake Pilger (Sr.-Burlington, Iowa) is the leading returnee for the men’s program and was an Honorable Mention All-MCC pick last season on defense. He is an unquestioned team leader and one of five seniors on the team along with Alberto de Mesa (Malaga, Spain), Goer Niu (Beijing, China), Michael Roberts (St. John’s, Antigua) and Emil Yazdani (Buenos Aires, Argentina).
Roberts led the team last year with five goals scored and 10 points, while de Mesa tied for second on the team with four goals and finished second in points with nine. Other returning starters include Levor Henry (Jr.-St. John’s, Antigua), Alex Marchese (So.-Toronto, Ontario) and Luis Zamora (So.-Selma, Calif.).
After sharing time in the net last year with departed senior Chris Rennie, Troy Osborne (So.-Sydney, Australia) takes over goalkeeping duties this year. He finished 3-7 last year and posted a 2.44 GAA for the season.
After returning from Nebraska, both soccer teams will open the home portion of their season Tuesday, Sept. 1 against Culver-Stockton (Mo.) College at East Lake Park. The women will play at 3 p.m. with the men’s match to follow at 5 p.m.
For more information regarding the IWC soccer programs or any of the Tiger athletic teams, contact sports information director Adam Glatczak (319-385-6306 phone; 319-385-6384 FAX; firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail) or log on to IWC's athletics web site at www.iwc.edu/athletics.