Clarksville, Ark.-Building upon positive results and an expectation to be competitive are the themes for new head coach Adam Nirenberg's 2004 version of the University of the Ozarks women's soccer team.
Nirenberg, who became the program’s sixth head coach in eight years, has seven starters returning from a team that finished with a 4-13-1 overall record and a 2-11-1 American Southwest Conference record last year. Nirenberg can also count on six new players, five of which are freshmen, for the upcoming season. "My expectation is to compete in every game," said Nirenberg, who served as the assistant men’s and women’s coach at Concordia University in Illinois the past two seasons. "I want to compete in all games even when we are overmatched and that falls on me as head coach to motivate our players. It is my responsibility to prepare them mentally and tactically each time we play. We want positive results every time we step on the pitch and we want to build upon those results even if they are not wins." Seniors Lindy Swatzell, Marissa Andrade, Letty Trevino and Lindsey Turnbow lead the way for the Lady Eagles and have exhibited strong leadership in the preseason, according to Nirenberg. "Our senior leadership is outstanding," said Nirenberg. "I think the whole senior class has been really working hard and that has resulted in a display of great work efforts as a team." Swatzell, a three-time All-Conference forward, recorded nine goals and four assists a year ago. She has led the team in points and goals the last three seasons and ranks first at Ozarks in career goals (21) and second in career points (49). Turnbow, who recorded four assists last season, gives Ozarks experience at the forward position. Junior Becky Obermueller can provide a lift on offense as she recorded two goals a year ago in limited time due to an injury. Andrade was an ASC All-East division second team pick last season and provides steady leadership and ability in the midfield. Andrade was named conference Offensive Player of the Week as a freshman. Trevino, who has started in 48 career games, gives the Lady Eagles stability on the defensive front. Defenders Kate Schoenhals and Ember Smith were honored by the ASC coaches as league standouts as freshman. Schoenhals earned ASC All-East Division Second team while Smith gathered ASC All-East Division honorable mention honors. "The midfield section will be our strength," said Nirenberg. "Marissa is a leader by example and has done a good job of leading our team thus far. I want Lindy to be the player that brings other players with her and raises the level of her teammates." Senior Carrie Rogers is set to be the goalkeeper. "Carrie is a fast learner and is a good athlete," said Nirenberg. Prospects for the upcoming season look even more reassuring with a glance at the incoming freshmen class. Three-time NSCAA All-America Jessalyn Halsted adds an instant offense punch. Halsted’s former Harrison High School teammates Cayenne Carter and Lacey Howard provide Ozarks with talent and depth as will Olivia Fisher and Amanda Alexander, who are both from Mountain Home. "I’ve been impressed with our underclassmen," said Nirenberg. "This group of freshman is real coachable. They have done nothing but come in and worked hard. They’ve realized they have some work to do and they are willing to put in the effort. And that’s what will make them successful in the future." "I like our team," said Nirenberg. "I think we can be very successful and surprise a lot of people with how strong we are. We have a good group of freshmen and a solid senior class. We will start to learn to win and that starts in practice and leads into games. We are working very hard at practice sessions to keep them business-oriented. I have an expectation as to how we practice is how we are going to play. We want to make sure we are working on the business at hand." The Lady Eagles open the season September 1 in Memphis, Tennessee, against Rhodes College.