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SOCCER: Beavers picked 2nd in NSIC poll, Norton named Preseason Offensive Player of the Year

BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State soccer team has been picked to finish second in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, according to the Preseason Coaches’ Poll released Thursday. BSU senior forward Rachael Norton was also selected as the NSIC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.

The Beavers, fresh off the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance, garnered 206 points and two first-place votes to finish behind Minnesota State in the poll. BSU’s position in the preseason poll is the highest the program has ever been picked.

Rachael Norton

The defending NSIC regular season and tournament champion Mavericks collected 220 points and 12 first-place votes to top the poll. The other two first-place votes went to Augustana, who was picked third with 194 points, and Minot State, who received 189 points to finish fourth.

Norton, a native of Mounds View, led BSU and all NSIC players in points (38), points per game (2.11), goals (14), goals per game (.778), assists (10), assists per game (.556) and game-winning goals (6) in 2017. She finished the regular season among the top 10 in all of Division II in assists per game, while she was among the top 20 in both points and goals. In NSIC contests, she posted a league-high 33 points, 12 goals and nine assists, while she was third with five game-winning goals.

Norton also equalled Katie Meinhardt for the program’s single-season record for points, and Sarah Stram’s 2015 single-season record for game-winning goals, and is second on the Beavers’ single-season assist list. The striker was also named NSIC Offensive Player of the Year, earned First-Team All-NSIC honors and first-team all-region recognition from the USCAA and D2CCA.

After three seasons, Norton is already tied for fourth on BSU’s all-time goal scoring list (29), is fifth on BSU’s all-time assists list (18), fourth in program history in career game-winning goals (9) and her 76 points places her third on BSU’s all-time scoring list.

BSU senior goalkeeper Anna Fobbe was also named an NSIC defensive player to watch this season.

The St. Paul native possesses a 21-10-2 career record with 11 shutouts. Fobbe also has a career goals against average of 0.80 and a save percentage of .840. As a junior, she saw time in nine matches and made seven starts. She was 7-0-1 with three shutouts, a .983 save percentage and a team-best 0.39 goals against average.

At the conclusion of the 2017 season, Fobbe was recognized as the NSIC’s Elite 18 Award winner for academic excellence in soccer.

Augustana’s Rebekah Thoresen was selected NSIC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

After a historic 15-1-4 season that resulted in the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance, the Beavers will look to build on that success in 2018. Bemidji State will play three exhibition games before opening the regular season Aug. 30 in Minot, N.D., against Oklahoma Baptist. The team’s home opener with Minnesota Crookston is set for Sept. 5 at Chet Anderson Stadium.