FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – With eight days left until their 2011 season opener, the Northern Arizona women's soccer team is hard at work to replace a squad that lost six starters and eight total letterwinners from last year's team.
"I'm extremely pleased with the chemistry that the team has right now," said head coach Andre Luciano. "The ability to integrate the freshmen with the upperclassmen will be one of the most important factors for us. They've all worked very hard over the summer, but we still have a lot to build."
With the departure of the 2007 recruiting class named "The Foundation," Luciano brings in a newcomer class of 12, consisting of 10 true freshmen and two transfers, to blend with his 12 returning letterwinners.
"They're a great class," said senior forward Jenna Samora of the newcomers. "They're working hard on their positions and learning how to play on formation."
Senior forward Sam Monahan, the team's lone returning All-Big Sky First Team selection, highlights the returning Lumberjacks from the 2010 squad. Also returning are Samora, senior forward Chelsea Bednarz and senior defender Georgia Foltz, all of whom were conference Honorable Mention selections a year ago. Bednarz was also named the conference's Newcomer of the Year.
"We're going to be a different team this year with different personnel," said Luciano. "This team will have its own identity."
NAU is coming off its first ever regular season Big Sky title with a 12-4-3 overall mark. The 12 wins matched a program high and the .711 winning percentage was a school record. They open the season against in-state rival Arizona State on Aug. 19 in Tempe.