Women’s soccer kicking their way to new goals

Future recruiting is crucial with loss of three seniors 

North Central Rams woman's soccer plays Northwestern Eagles
The Rams woman’s soccer team plays the Northwestern Eagles, one of their UMAC rivals, at Elliot Park Field on Oct. 28. The Rams kept it close early on, finishing the first half down 2-1. But in the second half, the Eagles ran away with the game, 5-1. Anna Hartwig scored the lone Rams goal.

North Central’s women’s soccer team is coached by Andrew Cameron, a class of 2010 alumni that has since been heavily involved in women’s soccer. In his second year as head coach, he derived a new system of play for the women to take on the 2017 season. Continuing this new system will build a solid foundation for athletes, said Cameron, who  is actively recruiting. 

The new system is based on the positioning of players. Cameron has changed to a field of four defenders, three mid-fielders and three forwards to ensure a stronger attacking opportunity for more scoring options.  

“Dakotah [Sparrman] is probably our most lethal scoring threat,” Cameron said. 

Sparrman, a senior captain who was named to the UMAC All-Conference second team, holds the school record of most goals scored in a single season with 72 goals scored in the 2015 season. 

Though the team has players with the ability to score, it took some time for the women to become comfortable with the new system. There were seven new players scoring goals and getting assists this season, which shows an understanding of the new system that magnifies benefits as well. Freshmen Anna Hartwig and Cheyenne Brown scored seven and nine goals respectively, and freshman Brea Zellner added three assists. 

“Showing up ready to play in games I know we’re capable of competing in shows the team’s intensity and tactics,” Sparrman said in an email. 

Going into next season, Cameron is losing three significant players due to graduation. Sparrman, Rebekah Simerson and Lindsay Freitag have all had an impact on North Central’s soccer program. 

“All three of them are starters, so that’ll be significant to find people who are competent in those areas,” Cameron said. “That’s all a matter of recruiting.”

Cameron has a list of recruits for the 2018 season: some have committed, some are on the fence and some he knows will commit later in their application process to North Central. Not only is recruiting for 2018 taking place, but Cameron has started a list for the 2019 season as well. He likes to accumulate a large pool of names and contacts and narrow it down as the next season approaches.

For the recruits living in the Midwest, Cameron makes it a point to attend a game to get an idea of the player both on and off the field. With those that are located further away, Cameron relies on game film and phone calls to the player’s recent coaches to learn about the student’s method of play.

As for North Central, Cameron is certain to tell recruits of what makes the university stand out compared to other Division III options. Having required chapel every day reflects the active faith-based aspect along with the location being a draw to those who may not be surrounded by the downtown heart of a city.

“There’s a lot of opportunity that comes with being so close to the downtown area,” Cameron said. “That is the single biggest draw for a lot of students looking at a Christian Division III institution.”

The Rams finished their season with a final overall record of 5-12. Two of the recorded five wins came from conference play where the Rams defeated Crown College. The other wins were against Alverno College, Faith Baptist College, and Providence University. An additional two wins came from the Mount Mary invitational tournament early in the season that sparked the Rams to further success. 

The Rams UMAC record at the end of the season was 2-10, keeping them again from breaking the two win barrier in the NCAA DIII play since entering the UMAC in 2012.