Juniors, Underclassmen Provide Leadership for 2010 Season


by Ben Lucas

The Simpson Women’s Soccer team will have a lot of challenges this year, and having no seniors to provide leadership is one of them. 

However, junior midfielder Katherine Bird says that won’t matter.

“It’s always been a senior leader,” Bird said. “Now it’s a junior. We need to step up and provide the leadership and push.” 

Bird, a midfielder, started both her freshman and sophomore year. She tied for third place on the team with three goals last year, and she knows it is up to her and other juniors to form the team into a cohesive unit.

Bird and her teammates’ spirits remain high despite the obstacles they face. Pre-season workouts full of conditioning and building chemistry has already cemented some of the key organization they will require in the coming games.

“We’re a pretty close team,” she said.

Sophomore goalkeeper Jess Toyne feels the same way. Toyne is back for another season after seeing some time for the Storm last year. She admits it’s hard to get into synch without a strong senior core, but realizes the foundation of a team will just have to emerge in another way. 

“We don’t have those senior girls that push us,” Toyne said. “But every one of our starters is a returner.”

Head coach Ryan Sander is starting his first season with Simpson. He became a permanent fixture on campus last December. He led Waukee High School to the state soccer tournament in seven of his last eight seasons with the Warriors. He said long-lasting success will take time to build, but he is hopeful that the team’s progress and competitive spirit will lead the way this year. 

“We’re working on team shape, unity and communication,” Sander said. “We’re establishing how we’re going to function.” 

Sander said that as the season progresses each player falls into a role that will become part of a larger, working system.

“I think we’ll have some good games this year,” Sander said. “There are a lot of great rivals. You always play harder in your conference.”

The women’s soccer team is determined to prove all doubters wrong this year. 

“We’ll surprise a lot of people,” Toyne said. 

The Storm fell to Nebraska Wesleyan on Sept. 1 in their first game of the season, but recovered on Sept. 4 by beating Wisconsin-River Falls 3-1. Junior Katherine Bird, junior Nicole Dillenburg and sophomore Taylor Hallgren each scored a goal in the victory. The Simpson women will take on Millikin at home on Sept. 6 at 1 p.m. and Clarke in St. Paul, Minn. on Sept. 11 at 11 a.m. 

The win over Wisconsin-River Falls marked the first victory for head coach Ryan Sander.