2019 Women’s Soccer Season Preview Posted on August 26th, 2019 by

(photo courtesy of SPX Sports)

SAINT PETER, Minn. – The Gustavus women’s soccer team is hoping that successful offseason training and a competitive preseason will translate into positive results after missing the MIAC playoffs last year for the first time since 2014.

“We’ve broken down our program to all the little things that we need to focus on in order to achieve our goals,” Head Coach Laura Burnett-Kurie said, who is in her eighth year at the helm. “You can forget about those little things when you’ve found yourself in the playoffs for three years straight, but all those little things make or break your ability to make it to the playoffs.”

The Gusties return three of their top-five point-scorers from last year, including team-leader Abby Mullenbach (Sr., Lakeville, Minn.) who tallied six goals and three assists for 15 points in 18 starts. Katie Ashpole (Jr., Chaska, Minn.) and Lauren Johnson (Jr., Woodbury, Minn.), who also started all 18 games last year, were the fourth and fifth highest point-getters last season with seven and five points, respectively. Johnson earned All-Conference honorable mention in 2018.

Perhaps the most notable roster move is the return of All-American goalkeeper Ashley Becker (Sr., Farmington, Minn.) who missed all of last season due to injury and returns for a fifth year after a medical redshirt. During her last season of action in 2017, Becker earned First Team All-America and MIAC Defensive Player of the Year after starting all 20 games in net with a 0.66 goals against average, 98 saves, and a 10-6-4 record in nearly 1,900 minutes.

Along with Becker and Mullenbach, Judith Hepburn (North Pole, Alaska), Lucy Thompson (Edina, Minn.), and Maggie Leininger (Plymouth, Minn.) make up a senior class that has a wide range of experiences throughout their collegiate careers.

“Our group of seniors has experienced winning the conference playoff and going to the national tournament, making it to the conference tournament and losing early on, making it to the MIAC championship and losing in double overtime, and then not making it to the playoffs,” Burnett-Kurie said. “The seniors’ perspective of how to ride the highs and lows while maintaining consistency is fantastic. Being on the same page and leading as a group is going to be really important.”

Gustavus’s schedule is challenging in both non-conference and MIAC contests this season as it matches up with six of the top-eight regionally ranked teams from 2018, including two teams nationally ranked in this year’s preseason poll.

“Even if we don’t get a victory as a final result in some of these early games, we still want to focus on playing our style of soccer, which includes interchanging positions and a lot of movement off the ball,” Burnett-Kurie said. “If we don’t move away from that then we’re going to find success. We have a talented first-year class so our training environment is incredibly competitive. We want to be consistent with our play and use our depth.”

This season’s roster includes 19 returners and eight first-years. All but two of the 27 on the roster hail from Minnesota. Also new to the squad this year is assistant coach Zoe Eth, replacing Benton Frayne who is now the head coach at Buena Vista. Eth comes to Gustavus after three seasons as an assistant at William Smith (N.Y.).

“We’re really lucky to have Zoe on board,” Burnett-Kurie said. “She’s played at a high level at William Smith and won a national championship. And then coached there as an assistant under the greatest Division III coach of all time, who is very defensive minded, too. She brings a fresh perspective into our defensive shape and our back line.”

The Gusties kick off the 2019 campaign 5 p.m. Friday at Carthage in Kenosha, Wis. On Sunday, the Gusties travel to Loras for a 2 p.m. match before hosting Luther on Sept. 7 for the home opener.

2018 Stats

2019 Roster

2019 Schedule


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