BEMIDJI -- Fresh off its first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, the Bemidji State soccer team welcomed its newest recruiting class Wednesday.
Beaver head coach Jim Stone announced the signings of 10 players who will join the team for the 2018 season.
Jessica Bartz (Chisago City), Erin Becker (Andover), Devin Breeggemann (Waconia), Megan Dahl (Rosemount), Megan French (Colgate, Wis.), Megan Majewski (Elgin, Ill.), Isabelle Morin (Bemidji), Mackenzie Seim (Coon Rapids), Anna Steadland (Andover) and Sara Wendt (Arden Hills) each signed National Letters of Intent to play for the Beavers beginning next season.
“We signed 10 kids today and all 10 of them are (going to) contribute to this program in a positive way,” Stone said. “We look for certain qualities in our student-athletes and I think each one of these kids in their own unique and special way embodies those qualities.”
This year’s class happens to include a name area soccer fans will recognize from her Bemidji High School playing days. Morin will suit up at midfield for BSU this fall following her Lumberjack career.
“It is special. We haven’t had a local player for a little while here,” Stone said. “I just think it speaks to our high school program, to our youth (program), to our club, all the things that are going on with that. I think it speaks volumes about what’s happening with soccer in our community and how it’s growing and how it’s producing talented players like Isabelle.”
BSU will be without five departing seniors next season, including a forward, a midfielder, a goalkeeper and two defenders. The team will return seven primary starters, as well as eight of its top 10 scorers.
“We pretty much had to address every line,” Stone said. “The goalkeeper piece is one that hasn’t been addressed yet, so that could happen at a later date here. But we addressed the defensive line, the midfield line and our line up top with our forwards. We wanted to add talent and depth to each of those lines.”
All five players will be missed, but perhaps none more than Miranda Famestad, the anchor of the Beavers’ back line.
“We certainly lose a special player in Miranda Famestad being a First-Team All-American,” Stone said. “We’re confident that Tia (Neuharth) can step up as a leader back there. But someone’s going to have to complement her, whether it be from inside our roster right now or from someone amongst this 10.”
Bemidji State went 15-1-4 in 2017 and finished the regular season as one of only four unbeaten teams in the nation. The Beavers were eliminated in the Northern Sun quarterfinals, but earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in history.
The 2018 recruiting class was already solidified last fall, but Stone foresees the tournament appearance paying dividends down the line.
“I think things were in place that were taking us to a higher level,” Stone said. “And now I think because of that exposure, and because of that success, the recruiting for 2019 (and) 2020 is (going to) be ridiculous.”