The first game of any season comes with nerves. Even for experienced seniors.
That’s what Husker Alli Peterson said after the Nebraska soccer team dropped Colorado College 3-1 in exhibition play on Saturday night. Peterson was asked about the value of game experience for a new-look Nebraska squad that features eight freshman, but is also balanced out by the eight seniors suiting up for the Big Red this year.
On top of the newcomers Nebraska will try and work into the rotation, the Huskers are also looking for familiar faces to step into new roles after losing four key seniors a year ago. Those seniors accounted for 14 of Nebraska’s 25 goals, 11 of the team’s 20 assists, and three of the four started all 22 games for NU. That includes 11 goals from Jaycie Johnson, who scored 42 goals in her four years, and seven assists for Sydney Miramontez. The fourth, Caroline Flynn, started in the 20 games she played, and is now playing with FC Kansas City alongside Miramontez.
Yet even in the face of replacing such an accomplished class, Peterson said this year’s Nebraska squad is ready to handle the challenge. The Huskers have enough talent and potential to come in at No. 22 in the preseason poll from the United Soccer Coaches. Now, Peterson said, the task becomes putting that potential to good use and working past the preseason nerves to produce results.
“Yeah, maybe we lost four really great superstars as some would say, but with the loss of them we’ve had everyone else be able to step up and fill those roles. Everyone else has a little bit more responsibility, and because of that we’ll be able to play more as a team. It’s not just relying on one person to get the job done. It’s everyone, it’s 30 players on and off the field.”
– Alli Peterson
Now don’t read too far into the comments: Last year’s squad was not hampered by having “star” players. The 2016 edition hosted an NCAA first round game before advancing to the round of 32, and that success is a big part of NU’s preseason ranking this year. But on Saturday night, Peterson said the Huskers showed that the newest edition of the Nebraska soccer team is ready to prove that this program doesn’t rebuild.
“We’ve got big goals,” Peterson said. “and we’re ready to reach them.”
– Compiled by Pat Radigan