Women’s soccer joins NCAA Division I

Seniors Robyn Mentegen, Ann Hyer and Veronica Sova, and juniors Tiffani Heidelberg and Amy Bruer are ultimately the cause of this change.Strong players of the former soccer club, they were frequently the only players at practice, recruited women and basically ran the club out of their love for soccer. Those who kept the dream alive for women’s soccer to become a Division I sport have finally succeeded.

Last season, the women’s soccer team made it to conference for the first time. “Since we had such a successful club team, we felt it was important to add another women’s team, always striving for gender equity,” Helen Smiley, athletic director, said.

According to Smiley, they held a title line survey of the students who indicated an interest in women’s soccer being added to the sports program.

“Participation in soccer by women at the high school level has expanded significantly in recent years; our decision is being responsive to that interest and need to provide opportunity for student athletes to compete at an intercollegiate level. Also, the success of the soccer club strongly indicates the ability and interest here,” Larry Mortier, vice president for advancement and public services, said.

The team will now have its own funding, scholarships and coach.

“We are currently recruiting both a men’s and women’s soccer coach … We have to work our budget and increase fundraising to cover the additional expense,” Smiley said.

The men and women will share the new competition field for games.

“The field was grated and reseeded last fall. New bleachers and a scoreboard will be added for next year,” Smiley said.

The teams will practice on the area north of Brophy Hall.

The former soccer club members have a long awaited, Division I season ahead of them.

“I’m ready for it, I just don’t know what to try out for! It’s gonna be a good thing for us. I think almost everyone will try out from club. The only drawback is the coach won’t be able to see the team prior to tryouts, but it will be a great experience to play at Division I level,” soccer player Angie Blascek said.

“I’ll try out for it. It should be more challenging for the team. It’s been long overdue in coming. I’m excited. I can’t wait. It will be refreshing to play stronger teams. I love a good challenge,” soccer player Trisha Henrichs said.

“I think it’s great. It’s a wonderful opportunity to prove what we can do and get more competition,” soccer player Alicia Jensen said.

The club thanks their volunteer coaches Matt Wicke, Craig Avenevoli and Dave Knollhoff, without which this feat never would have been possible.