The women’s soccer team will play in the NCAA Division 1 for the second year in a row. Head Coach Eric Schoenstein is very excited.
“We’re in the best shape we’ve ever been in as a program, right now. We’re just trying to improve each year, and take the next step to the NCAA Tournament next year. We hope to win a national championship before it’s all said and done,” Schoenstein said.
Schoenstein claims that it is essential for the team to beat Bellarmine, Truman State, and McKendree to get into and win the NCAA Tournament.
“Our biggest rival is Bellarmine, and last year was the first time we beat them in 13 years. Then Truman State has always been our toughest opponent, that’s who we title our championship with,” Schoenstein said. “And then obviously McKendree is a nationally ranked program. We lost to them in double overtime last year. So those are the three schools, and we key in on all 13 other programs, but those guys are kind of the three programs that, for us to take that next step into the NCAA Tournament, those are the three programs that we have to beat every year.”
Before becoming Head Coach, Schoenstein graduated from USI, but before he did that, he was the team captain of his team and won the GLVC Championship every year.
“I was the team captain my senior year, and we won the GLVC Championship all four years,” Schoenstein said. “We were the last team to actually win a GLVC tournament. We hit it four years in a row, and I’m trying to bring that type of winning culture to the women’s program.”
Even after not being able to get into the NCAA Tournament he’s still hopeful and more optimistic than ever before.
“We want to improve our season, based off of trying to improve each game, day by day, to increase our abilities, to increase our talents. Our main focus is that we kind of use our spring season for like a pre-season for the fall, so we wanna make sure that we’re playing the best competition we can play in the Midwest, and we feel like playing the Division 1 schools helps us,” Schoenstein said. “Last spring, we won our first regular season GLVC Championship in school history.”
“The girls in the last three years have built the women’s soccer culture to the highest area,” Schoenstein said. “They’re the ones that have to lead us to the top four finish these last few years. The only reason why we’re successful is because of the hard work the players put in each day. I’m proud to be their coach, simply because I leave training thinking, I just had 26 women bust their tail for two hours.”
Junior forward and midfielder Emilie Blomenkamp agrees with Schoenstein.
“I think that each day for us is like a step for improvement, and especially last year they lost, and this year we lost in the semi-finals, and I think that each year we try to build on to try and get farther and farther,” Blomenkamp said. “The most memorable moment of last fall is scoring the last goal against Illinois Springfield and Indiana-Purdue Northwest. Purdue one was very exciting for me. It was right at the beginning of the season. It was my first goal in Division 2.”