After starting the 2013 season 3-5-1, the Trappers patched things up in a hurry to finish 9-8-1. The rebound ended in a 1-0 loss to Laramie County Community College in the semifinals of the NJCAA Region IX Tournament, but Hill is already certain his team is in a better position heading into the 2014 campaign.
“After going through what we did early on last year and rallying the way we did, I think our women that have returned this season understand what is required to be at that level again,” Hill said. “And now we have a little bit of adversity again to start this season that the players are going to have to get through.”
New leaks sprung when Hill lost several recruits so close to the start of this season that he was unable to replace them. Among those would-be freshmen was the potential replacement for last season’s star goalkeeper, Katie Duffy, who has since graduated and moved on to Louisiana State University-Alexandria.
But instead of panicking, freshman Taylor Meeks volunteered to play in goal, and former Montana all-state keeper and sophomore Mia Stewart has also thrown her name in the hat to fill NWC’s sudden need.
“I wasn’t expecting to have to play goalie at all during my time at Northwest,” Stewart said. “I didn’t sign as a goalie because we had Katie and Rachel Rettinger last year. This year, we were expecting to get some good recruits in to fill that position. When that fell through through, I knew I had to step up and do what was best for the team.”
With six second-year players on his club as opposed to 12 freshmen, Hill was glad to see one of his sophomores demonstrate an unselfishness that should set a positive example for the younger players.
“When you have players like Mia that will step up and do what’s best for the team, others will follow suit until it becomes a team mentality,” Hill said. “In order to overcome setbacks and adversity, you need to have everyone doing what’s best for the team.”
When it comes to team strengths, both Hill and Stewart cited team chemistry, much like Erik Wehse and Omar Garcia did of Hill’s men’s team, a common theme which seems to run fluidly through NWC athletic programs.
The return of sophomore Karissa Kister to the Trappers should do wonders after she tore her ACL in the first 30 minutes of her team’s first practice last season. Hill also noted a growing bond between center back players Kortney McBride and Amberly Halstead, whose defense should aid NWC.
“There’s a lot to look forward to, a lot of positives with this group,” Hill said. “It’s important for us to continue to push forward, to find a team identity and to form good habits.
“We’ve come quite far from where we were last year, so I don’t see any of that being an issue for this club.”