Freshmen to play key role for Lady Bisons
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Freshmen to play key role for Lady Bisons

The Four Freshmen wowed musical fans in the 1950s with their ability to harmonize.

Lady Bisons soccer coach Jon Ireland has added five freshmen this season that he is hopeful will add a “wow” factor to his team.

The Lady Bisons open the regular season Friday night at 7 at the Lipscomb Soccer Complex with a visit from IUPUI. It will be the collegiate debut for forward Kirsten Heikkinen, forward Jenna Forrest, defender April Horner, midfielder Danielle Bethke and midfielder Meghan McGuire.

Horner, 5-foot-3, has apparently earned a starting spot as an outside back.

“April has come in and done a great job,” Ireland said. “She came in fit. She is very quick. She is very skilled and very smart with the ball. She is a good passer and a good defender. And she has something you can’t teach and that’s speed.”

Based on formations the Lady Bisons will play either three or four in the midfield. Regardless of the formation, McGuire is expected to get a great deal of playing time.

“Meghan is really, really talented,” Ireland said. “We are really excited about what she is going to bring to the team.

“She has tremendous creativity on the ball. She probably has the best vision on the team. She is very patient with the ball. She sees things develop. She is able to get the ball to people in the right spots, something we have struggled with in the past.”

Bethke, who like McGuire is from Minnesota, is expected to be an offensive threat, another area where the Lady Bisons have been lacking in the past.

“Danielle came in very fit,” Ireland said. “She has the potential to really score some goals. She is one of the best shooters we have on the team. She can hit it from 30 to 35 yards out.

“We are excited about getting her the ball and letting her create some stuff. She has the potential to score goals which is something we haven’t really had from a midfield or forward position. We will put her in the midfield or up top based on our formation.”

Heikkinen has proved to be the fastest player on the team. She is another versatile player who can play defense, midfield or forward.

“Kirsten may be the fastest player on our team,” Ireland said. “She is a natural runner. We looking at her as a midfielder, but if we have a problem defensively we can put her back there.

“She has been impressive in preseason since her first touch on the ball. All of those freshmen are so smart with the ball. We have so many versatile players which gives us flexibility with injuries. We haven’t had that in the past either.”
Forrest has been pressed into service as a back-up goalkeeper. Her 5-9 height was one of the key reasons for the decision.

“We are trying to get her acclimated to that new position,” Ireland.  “Jenna hasn’t played a whole lot of soccer.

“We like her height and athletic ability. In women’s soccer there are so many goals that are scored on high balls over the goalie’s head. She is also fairly quick. We have spent a lot of time with her in preseason. She has the tools and potential. She can become as good as she wants.”

Another newcomer getting her first game experience in a Lipscomb uniform will be forward/midfielder Megan Blalock, a junior transfer from Belmont who sat out last season.

“Megan can play any position on the field,” Ireland said. “She is extremely versatile. She will be one of our center backs.

“She is one of the smarter players on the team. She is one of the sharpest players in terms of reading the game. She has great decision-making skills. She has great vision. She will be in the back somewhere, probably in the center, but we can push her out wide if we need to do it. She will be a big boost for us.”

The Lady Bisons are back in action Sunday night at 6 at Austin Peay.