BEMIDJI – After finishing 10-7-2 in 2012 and losing just one player to graduation, Bemidji State soccer coach Jim Stone didn’t need to bring in a huge recruiting class for 2013.
Just six players signed with the Beavers Wednesday, but Stone thinks all six can make a contribution right away.
“We return a lot, so we could focus on quality of person and increase depth and increase competition so we don’t get complacent,” Stone said. “We diversified in terms of position. We strengthened at midfield, backfield and forward.”
Stone said finding good character players was the biggest thing he looked for in his recruits.
“This program is about more than just soccer,” he said. “As a whole, we wanted to focus on quality of person and character, bringing kids who are going to be good in the locker room and on the field.”
Among the six players who signed with the Beavers are two forwards, two midfielder and two defenders.
Bayley Ertl, from North Branch, and Kayla Manske, from Delano, will join the team as forwards.
“Bayley was our first commit,” Stone said. “She scored a ton of goals and was all-state last year. She’s very fast, too.
“Kayla is tall, strong, athletic and has a good personality.”
Sarah Stram, from Elk Grove Village, Ill., and Christine Szurek, from Andover, will strengthen the middle of the field.
Stram is yet another recruit from the Chicago area who plays at a high level. The Beavers have two players on the current roster – defenders Stephanie Brown and Carly Dietrich.
“The Chicagoland area has been really good to us lately,” Stone said. “Stram has a lot of potential and comes from a high level of play. She could come in and see some playing time right away.”
Szurek was an under-the-radar player who Stone said he was lucky to get.
“She has a lot of leadership qualities,” he said. “She’s kind of a grinder and is one of those players who can sit at the middle of the field and win some balls. She’s a good distributor and a smart player.”
On defense, Anna Sivanich of Maple Grove and Grace Ogden of Eagle River, Alaska, round out BSU’s recruiting class.
Ogden’s path to BSU may be the most interesting, coming from Alaska.
“She came to us, actually,” Stone said. “She wrote to us then came down to our camp. We didn’t go up there to recruit her at all but we’re excited that she found us. She looks like she’ll be a great fit.”
Overall, Stone said all six players – and a seventh, who Stone hopes to sign later – could step in and compete for playing time right away.
“Coaching-wise, the danger is complacency,” he said. “We want to bring in kids who are talented enough to push the current squad right now. But we’re also thinking ahead, to 2014, 2015. It’s a good problem to have.”