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August 25, 2011 8:59 am

NWC women’s team starting, again

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By RANDAL HOROBIK

Tribune Sports Editor

As Northwest College soccer prepares to enter its sophomore season of existence, the Trapper women’s program is already undergoing an identity change. After just two wins last season, head soccer coach Rob Hill held over just four players and brought in a crop of 19 new faces this fall.

“It’s a completely brand new team basically,” Hill said of the women’s team. “It’s a really, really strong team as proven by the results they had in the exhibitions. It’s really night and day.”

Plenty of new faces for Trapper women

Northwest finished 1-1-1 in its three scrimmages, a notable improvement over the 0-3 showing the previous year.

The changes are pretty much all over the field. Morgon Cox, a native of Perth, Australia, will stand in goal for the Trappers. Ahead of her on defense is a unit that has Hill raving.

“We have a really, really strong back line on the women’s team,” Hill said. “Haley Ahrenholtz is just so speedy. I don’t know how Division I teams missed out on her. Hali Henwood is from Douglas. Brandi Roetzel is from Newcastle, and Amanda Price is from Buffalo. It’s an all-Wyoming back line and it’s awesome to have that.”

That line will be bolstered by returning sophomore Jen Berg from Casper, whom Hill praised for her speed and tenacity. Cody’s Cassie Steckler and Sara Tripp could also see time on defense, as will returner Cynthia Barajas out of Florida. Hill is also carefully eyeing Denver’s Dora Ballesteros.

“She’s going to be a good player for us. She just needs to learn the tactical system of playing a zonal defense,” said Hill. “Once she picks that up, she’ll make an impact, I believe.”

At midfield, one of the early standouts is Mariam Gelderloos, who played for Park High School in Livingston, Mont. She’s one of three Livingston products on the Trappers’ roster and all three are expected to make an impact during the season.

“Mariam is a very strong, tall player at midfield,” Hill said. “She reads the game well. She’s not afraid to tackle or to get forward.”

She’ll be aided by Gemma Alexander, a freshman from Scotland.

“Gemma can switch the ball 30 or 40 yards and that will really open some things up for us,” Hill said.

Utah’s Cassie Zimmerman and Alaska’s Marena Quint are also expected to impact the midfield for the Trappers. The position also gets a boost from Powell’s Katie Kipp, one of the few sophomores back. Quint and Kipp showed their abilities recently during the Trappers scrimmage against Great Falls as Quint fed Kipp for Northwest’s final goal of the game.

As far as fall conversation goes though, nobody has been talked about more than freshman Samiha Simao this fall. Despite being slowed by an ankle sprain, Simao has tallied two goals for the Trappers in the preseason, and that could just be the tip of the iceberg.

“Samia is just absolutely phenomenal,” Hill said. “She’s got speed and skill and she provides a lot of opportunities for other players. She’s a tremendous attacking prospect. Any time she gets the ball, something is going to happen.”

Also up front will be sophomore Sydney Heckel, Trapper soccer’s first signee last year. Heckel brings experience in Northwest’s system and a strong ability to finish goals to the squad.

Joining that pair will be Christine Silverstone, another Park High School player. Silverstone was a late signing by the Trappers, but looked right at home on the left side against Great Falls recently.

“She’s fast, tenacious,” said Hill. “She’s just an absolute bulldog. She gets knocked down more than any other player we have and she just keeps getting up.”

Another returning player of note is Idaho’s Kaitlyn Smith. Hill praises the returner for her technical soundness on the pitch and her tactical awareness.

“Overall, the strength of the women’s team is unreal,” Hill said. “I expect we’ll shock a few people with how far we’ve come from last year. We’ll still face some tough competition, but this year we’ll be in games as opposed to just playing.”

The Trappers travel to Kansas this weekend for games against Garden City and Barton.

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