The Thunderbirds are set to face an exciting slate of games that will include visits from Big Sky Tournament winner Montana and regular season co-champion Portland State this October.
“The Big Sky is full of parity, on any day any team could win so you don’t ever get a day off,” explains Hogan. “It’s a league with a higher level of technical of players, a lot of good coaches and very good soccer.”
Hogan will bring a new style of play and look to utilize the talent on her roster in new and innovative ways in order to help SUU be a contender in its first season of competition in the Big Sky.
“We are going to be a lot more attack oriented,” commented Hogan. “Fans can expect to see a dynamic style of play with transitions in and out of different formations.”
Another new wrinkle that Thunderbird fans will see on the pitch this season is the transition of senior Rachel Krenzer as she moves up from the back line to the midfielder position where she will be looked upon to orchestrate the Thunderbird offense.
“I believe it’s the role of the coach to bring a fresh perspective and evaluate the players abilities to try and identify the best way that they can help the team,” explains Hogan. “Rachel has the look of the consummate midfielder. She makes unbalancing runs that create opportunities for our offense and I predict that she will do a lot at that position.”
The fresh look of the Thunderbird soccer program will also be reflected on the roster where 11 newcomers are set to join the club. A solid lineup of returners, including six senior players, will help to offset some of the inexperience of the squad and bring veteran leadership to the group. Anchoring the offense will be fifth-year senior Stacey Brinkman who enters her final season at SUU ranking second in program history with 14 career goals as well as third in assists (eight) and total points (38). The standout forward also picked up all-conference second team honors in the Summit League after leading the T-Birds with six goals and 16 points last season.
“Stacey has been near perfect in her preparations during this summer,” commented Hogan. “She is extremely talented and will be a fan favorite with her craftiness on the ball and creativity on the field.”
Another key to the Thunderbirds success in the upcoming season will be the development of sophomore midfielder Kirsten Anthony who is coming off an impressive freshman campaign that landed her on the all-newcomer team.
“Kirsten worked her butt off during the offseason. She did everything we asked our players to do to the nth degree,” said Hogan. “I think she will be twice the player she was last year.”
Anthony and Krenzer will be joined in the midfield by senior Morgan Bridge who tallied three assists last season, as well as incoming freshmen Nancy Brich, Rachel Wright and late-signee Savannah Spere.
The back line for Southern Utah will feature returning letter winners Andrea Albrecht, Kristy Hendrickson, Christine Meehan, Megan Mower and Megan Palmer. Back in goal for the Thunderbirds is senior keeper Charly Booth, who brings a strong mentality to a tough position.
“Charly gives us a very competitive personality,” explained Hogan. “She wants to win as much as she wants to breathe.”
The entire Thunderbird team is anxious to make its first appearance in the Big Sky Conference and has worked hard in preparing for the thrilling events that can be anticipated. With a new conference, players, coach and attitude, it is sure to be a special and exciting time for SUU soccer.
“Everyone on this team has something to prove, maybe they have a chip on their shoulder from being an under appreciated recruit, or they are trying to earn minutes as a bench player,” stated Hogan. “Even I share in that mentality with this being my first head coaching job and with the amount of hard work I have put in to get here. I can promise our fans that we have put a lot preparation into developing a good soccer product and I invite them to come see this great group of young women.”