The Minnesota State University Moorhead athletic department held its 2013 Fall Media Day on Wednesday at Alex Nemzek Hall. Local media got a glimpse at the 2013 Dragon women's soccer, volleyball and football teams.
Here is look at the three teams
Long-time mentor Rollie Bulock is looking for a solid year from his 2013 Dragon squad. The team has only two seniors -- goalkeepers Carole Braschayko and Victoria Hoffman -- and has a promising group of true freshmen (nine) looking to make an impact. Also returning is All-NSIC second-team selection Erin Nyberg, who is a junior.
"I'm excited looking ahead with the team that we have," Bulock said. "The freshmen that are here, we have high hopes for. We've changed things up as far as our system of play…I am excited about what can happen with this year."
"We are really excited about this year," Braschayko said. "All of the returners are excited to come back and the freshmen are looking really good. They're definitely going to contribute this year."
The team, which as picked 12th in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference preseason poll, will be on the road for three scrimmages before opening the regular season with a nonconference game at Jamestown on Sept. 5. The Dragons' first home game is Sept. 8 against Missouri Western. Braschayko said the team's goal is to qualify for the NSIC tournament, which would mean a top eight finish during the regular season.
"We definitely want to make it to the playoffs," Braschayko said. "We haven't been able to the last couple of years but we've gotten close. Definitely, we're looking forward to the playoffs."
Even though MSUM's volleyball team graduated four senior veterans, including All-American libero Katy Ness, and does not have a senior on its roster, the team does return an experienced nucleus in 2013. Seven returning players started at least nine matches a year ago, experience that Coach Tammy Blake says is something to build on.
"The beauty of it is is we have no seniors," Blake said. "So this is in some ways a young team, but in some ways an old team in the sense that some of our returners were starters last season. They're working really hard in the gym and we look forward to a lot of good things this year."
MSUM's roster consists of four juniors, five sophomores, two redshirt freshmen and five true freshmen. The team was picked ninth in the NSIC preseason coaches poll.
"We all have the drive this year," junior Annie Palmquist said. "We want to blow our ninth ranking out of the water. Our goal is to get in the top five."
"With Amber Krenske stepping in at libero, and we recruited some young defensive specialists to come in, I still think ball control is going to be one of our strengths," Blake said. "I think outside, we do a really good job of mixing our shots and putting the ball away. Blocking is going to be better. I thought we were a better blocking team last year, but there is more experience with Kaitlin VanWinkle in the middle. She is going to be an even better middle blocker this year."
With just four returning seniors, MSUM will once again count heavily on underclassmen in 2013. However, many of the team's 33 returning letterwinners saw significant playing time, including several of this year's sophomores.
"It's been a new feel," MSUM head coach Steve Laqua said. "Last year was about bringing guys in to continue to establish a culture that was a foundation that provided stability. Now, you see the culture -- young guys with the new guys taking in those values. That culture has become the ruler that we measure ourselves by."
Two of this year's sophomores who saw extended time a year ago were offensive lineman Troy Peterson and running back Zayne Medhaug. Many of this year's returning players, while still young, are taking on mentor roles.
"A lot of freshman coming in -- they're athletes. the people that played last year they're bringing game experience," Peterson said. They know how the game is going to be played. It's been really good to see more experience coming back, but also a lot of the young talent on the field."
"We played 11 games; we're kind of the veterans," Medhaug said. "We've been trying to help them and teach them little things you learn along the way."
With experience returning, plus a true freshmen group that is full of potential, the team will look to take a step forward in 2013.
"We talked (Tuesday) in one of our leadership talks…It's going to take a group of catalysts that are going to accelerate the process and raise the bar to another level," Laqua said.