MEQUON, Wis. -- Concordia University Wisconsin head coach Ryan Middendorf has enjoyed considerable success as the Falcon's head women's soccer coach but a NAC regular season championship has eluded his team to date. CUW has compiled a glossy 50-16-4 mark in conference play over the past six seasons, but powerful Aurora has won the regular season title each of those six seasons.
Last season the Falcons finished 9-3-0 in conference play, but CUW was only 10-7-0 overall.
"Team speed was not a real strength for us. Several teams just beat us to the ball," said Middendorf. "We're returning a veteran group with eight returning starters including two all-region players; Lauren Straehler and Ashley Apazeller and an excellent group of newcomers."
Middendorf has high expectations. "We're going to have to blend the proven veterans with this talented and athletic group of freshmen. I think we've added defensive stability, midfield play-makers, and attacking speed. This team will be a very exciting group to watch and coach…I can't wait to get them all on the field together."
Middendorf believes that the NAC will be stronger as a conference. "There are several teams that will battle for the conference championship this year. We will certainly be part of that battle. It's our goal every season…I believe we have the right mix of players this season to make the run. Our seniors and returners are focused on winning a championship, and our freshmen are excited about the opportunities that are in front of them.
Senior midfielder Straehler (Pewaukee, Wis.) has been the key to the Concordia Wisconsin offense in recent seasons. Straehler scored 15 goals and added eight assists in 2011.
Junior defender Apazeller (West Bend, Wis.) is easily the fastest Falcon and scored three goals along with notching five assists while marking the opponent's top scorers.
Senior Samantha Anacker (Janesville, Wis.) will be back in goal for CUW. She started all 17 games and made 93 saves a year ago.