NORFOLK, Neb. – The Northeast Community College women's soccer team ended the 2018 season with a sour taste in its mouth.
The Hawks fell to Iowa Central Community College, 2-1 in the Region XI semifinals to end their season with a winning record at 8-7-1.
However, the Hawks and head coach Chad Miller are looking to make it even further in 2019.
"I think if we learn from our mistakes as a team and build this unit stronger and more together than we did last season, we have a chance at being at the top," Miller said. "I really feel chemistry is going to be the key with this group. We have talent and if we can find the chemistry then we could really have something. We have big shoes to fill from last season, so we will need some players to fill those roles. If we can find those players and find that chemistry, this group can keep the success going."
In order to find the team chemistry, the Hawks will turn to its large sophomore class for guidance and leadership.
Weaver was a mainstay defender for Northeast after being named First Team All-Region and starting in all 16 games as a freshman. Stricker earned Second Team All-Region status after starting in 12 games, scoring four goals and tallying 10 shots.
Kahrena Thompson (Jamestown, Colo.) is an incoming sophomore and transfer from NCAA DII Fort Hays State University and will provide immediate depth for the Hawks.
Fellow sophomores Mary Perez (Aurora, Colo.), Abby Podraza (Columbus, Neb.), Kyla Ryan (Seymour, Wis.), Danielle Jokerst (Kansas City, Mo.) and Madi McKewon (Omaha, Neb.) will all push for playing time as second-year members.
"I expect some great leaders that will lead by example out of this sophomore class," Miller added. "As freshmen last year, they had some great leaders to follow. I saw a lot of growth from them by the end of the year, so I expect them to take the team and really make this a strong group."
One of the main keys for the Hawks will be the production from the highly-touted freshmen class.
"I expect the freshmen class to come in and set a level of expectation," Miller said. "This is a solid freshman class with big dreams. They have been gearing up for this time to come and I see more excitement from them than I do nerves. I feel they will jump on board with the sophomores immediately and get this train moving."
Naomi Pedroza (Hastings, Neb.) was a four-year letterwinner for the Tigers and will provide a spark as a forward this season. She was an All-State and All-Conference selection twice and played club soccer from Nebraska Select, scoring 30 goals in two years.
Frida Aguilar (Boulder, Colo.) will be another freshman that Miller will rely on early to set the pace for Northeast. Other newcomers that will push for playing time include: Londyn Cacciacarne (Layton, Utah), MacKenzie Byrnes (Brighton, Colo.), Jonatha Tighe (Broomfield, Colo.) and Alexa Gonzalez (Cooper City, Fla.).
Overall, I look forward to the newness of this group," Miller said. "We had key players last year that we knew would make a big impact, and they did. But, this group has a lot of equality across the players and the positions. I feel it is probably the most balanced group all the way across. I am excited to see what this season brings."
The Hawks begin the 2019 season at 4 p.m. (CT) tomorrow against Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo.
For all news related to Northeast Community College athletics, visit northeasthawks.com for complete coverage. Fans can also follow the Hawks on Twitter @NortheastHawks for game-day coverage.