Having 15 new players and being new to the program himself, building team chemistry was on the forefront of Northwestern State soccer head coach Ian Brophy’s mind during soccer report day Thursday.
The Lady Demons, coming off a second-place finish in the 2022 season, have 15 newcomers compared to just 11 returners.
“Perhaps our biggest challenge as coaches is building a chemistry since there are so many new faces,” Brophy said. “We have a plan on how we want to go about it and we are excited to get to work on building that chemistry and getting everyone on the same page because that is a challenge with so many new players.”
Taylor Spitzer, who flashed tremendous goal-scoring ability as a freshman last season, tallying four goals and recording 10 points, both lead the time among returners.
Being a team with just a pair of seniors, Emme’ Fernandez has stepped into the leadership role after 12 seniors were on the squad in 2022.
“I walk with confidence, and I want the girls on the team to also walk with confidence,” Fernandez said. “I think we have a lot of great girls who are ready to dedicate themselves their time and energy who make my job really easy as a leader.”
Fernandez and her teammates are tasked with replacing a group of seniors that amassed 46 wins during their four-year tenures.
In addition to Fernandez, the lone other senior is Mia Dupuis, who missed all the 2022 season with a torn ACL after transferring from LSU-Alexandria.
“It feels great to be cleared medically,” Dupuis said. “It wasn’t fun last season not being able to play, but everything happens for a reason. I think it made me have a greater appreciation for the game.”
NSU took head shots and marketing shots before ending the opening day with a team bonding activity as Brophy and the team aim to build that team chemistry he desires.
That leads into the beginning of practice, which started Friday, as NSU has a home exhibition contest against UL Lafayette on Aug. 12 before opening the regular season Aug. 20 at North Texas.
“It’s great to get things started,” Brophy said. “We’re very excited. It’s been a great first day. The energy has been high and everyone is ready to get started. We’ve been having fun with the photos and all the meetings we’ve had to do. It’s been an exciting first day, for sure.”