MITCHELL, S.D. – Having strength in numbers will be key for fourth-year head coach Clayson Glasgow once the season kicks off for the Dakota Wesleyan University women's soccer team.
"So far, I have seen a lot of leaders out there," Glasgow said. "You see different leadership in a game and with our first exhibition game this Saturday, I will be looking to see the leaders within the game."
Last year, the Tigers finished the season 2-14-1 and 2-7-1 in the competitive Great Plains Athletic Conference. The two wins came against Mount Marty College in a 6-0 victory and against Dordt College in a 1-0 decision. After returning nine players from last year's roster, DWU looks to make a push back into the GPAC tournament this year.
Junior Brooke Forsman (Sioux Falls, S.D.) will look to lead the defense for the Tigers. She started in 17 games her freshman season and started every game last year. This year she will be looked at to lead the young group of defenders. On the offensive side of the ball, Alyssa Weidler (Sioux Falls, S.D.) returns after an impressive freshman season. She tallied five goals, two assists and 29 shots on goal. Joining Weidler on the offense will be Gemini Wesley (Sioux Falls, S.D.) and Brittany Forsman (Sioux Falls, S.D.). Wesley notched a goal off seven shots on goal while Forsman added two goals in five shots on goal last year. Another familiar face returning for the Tigers will be sophomore Jocelyn Behm (Sioux Falls, S.D.). In her freshman season she finished with a goal, an assist and 11 shots on goal.
"It is fantastic to know that the majority of your leaders from last year are going to be back," Glasgow mentioned. "So far I have seen a lot of leaders out there in different departments in regards of taking more responsibility on themselves."
With the addition of nine returning players, Glasgow brings in eight new players to this year's team. He is excited about what the incoming players bring to the team, including the competition at goalkeeper between Cristal Villalvazo (San Jose, Calif.) and Hannah Bowes (Omaha, Neb.). Villalvazo transfers to DWU from Ohlone College in Fremont, Calif., where she played in the net for two seasons. Bowes comes to DWU from Omaha Westside High School where she recorded 25 career shutouts and a .918 save percentage.
"Cristal is amazing, she has lots of experience," Glasgow said. "Hannah played at OFC, one of the well-known soccer clubs in Omaha and brings a ton of experience in."
A local recruit that will look to have an immediate impact is Kindra Clark (Garretson, S.D.). She notched five goals and four assists for the Blue Dragons. Clark was named to the All-State Soccer Team her senior season as well as All-State Second Team and Most Valuable Soccer Player her junior season.
"I think they all can be impactful," Glasgow said of his entire group of incoming players. "I like what I have seen from them so far and I have high expectations that they will all do really well.
Another asset that Glasgow added in the offseason is graduate assistant Jovany Zuniga (West Chicago, Ill.). Zuniga will assist in recruiting efforts and gameday management, and Glasgow mentioned that Zuniga's presence has already taken pressure off his shoulders.
"I would not have been able to do the stuff I have done so far," Glasgow said. "I am much more relaxed now than I have ever been going into a season."
Glasgow has high expectations for this year's team and knows what this team is capable of when running on all cylinders. With all the pieces in place, he not only hopes to return to postseason play, but he wants to be one of the four teams to host a game during the GPAC tournament.
"There are 11 teams in our conference and the top eight teams go to the conference tournament," Glasgow said. "We would like to be one of those four teams to host. We do not want to just be one of the eight, but we want to host one of the first-round games in the conference tournament."
The season kicks off for the Tigers against Iowa Lakes Community College in an exhibition game at 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Pepsi-Cola Soccer Complex in Mitchell, S.D.