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DWU women's soccer team works to make postseason tourney

With its season on the horizon, the Dakota Wesleyan University women’s soccer team is focused on one goal — making the Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament.

The Tigers missed out on the tournament last year, which features the top eight teams in the GPAC. Wesleyan finished 2-7-1 in conference play and 2-11-1 overall last season.

“We were talking about goal setting recently, and you want to be realistic,” DWU women’s soccer coach Dale Roden said. “We believe we have a shot to make the postseason and then we will see what happens. I say that because I don’t believe this team is going to play our best early on. We are going to get better and better as the season goes.

“But I think by the end of the season, we may be playing our best soccer and that is what we want to do.”

DWU was selected to finish ninth in the preseason conference poll, which was released on Aug 13. Hastings, which finished undefeated in the GPAC last season, was selected first.

Roden believes one of the keys to his team’s success this season will be its shared values. He said many of his players believe and do the same things which will help them come together this season.

“They just are great kids,” Roden said. “Most of the girls are involved in church and mission trips and community service. They have jobs and they still do very well. Everyone wants to win on the field and on game day, but what about off the field? That is where the girls also succeed.”

Helping the Tigers reach their goal of reaching postseason play will be three players — senior Linsey Peterson, sophomore Maranda Ehrenfried and junior Thara Ali Said. Peterson, an honorable mention all-GPAC performer, returns in the midfield for the Tigers. Last year, she scored two goals and had one assist.

Ehrenfried, who played in 14 games last season, will anchor the back line of the DWU defense. Ali Said, a forward, is expected to score the bulk of the goals for Wesleyan. Ali Said led the Tigers in goals and points last season with seven and 14, respectively.

Wesleyan also will rely on its eight newcomers to provide a spark this season.

“Linsey is a very consistent player for us,” Roden said. “She has the ability to take over a game at times, as well. Maranda is one of the best athletes on the team and we anticipate her to be one of the best defenders in the conference, and Thara just keeps getting better and better we expect her to have a good season.”

The players will look to pick up the void left by honorable mention all-GPAC performers Abby Hubbard and Yutzil Rodriguez, who were seniors last season. Rodriguez scored four goals and had one assist last season, while Hubbard was one of DWU’s top defenders.

Wesleyan’s season gets under way at noon Saturday against the College of St. Mary in Omaha, Neb.