A FEW MINUTES WITH...GREG CANE
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Back to patrol the University of Minnesota Duluth sidelines for his 19th season, Greg Cane has one of the most talented Bulldog rosters in recent memory at his disposal. UMD returns all but one regular from a 2011 club that put together an overall mark of 11-6-1 and battled to a third place finish in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
After advancing to the semifinal round of the NSIC Tournament a year ago with an inexperienced lineup, the Bulldog coaching staff and players have plenty to be optimistic about. Cane took a moment to sit down with UMDBulldogs.com and go over his expectations for the upcoming season:
In bringing back the majority of a club that reached 11 victories last fall, are you expecting to add a couple extra wins to the ledger in 2012?
We're hoping to put up a better record because a better record would probably put us in a better finish at the top of the conference. Even though we were close last year -- up until the last weekend or two having a chance to maybe get first. A better mark would also put is in a regional conversation a little bit more strongly than last year's six-loss record. In Reegan Lloyd we lose a very specific component that a lot of teams don’t have, and one that did dictate quite a bit of what we could do in certain situations. She was a very situational asset. She brought power and threat when she was within range of the goal. That no longer exists for us so we have to balance it a little bit.
Will your team push closer to the two goals per game mark on offense?
We’d like to get closer to two goals per game. Any time you have younger players so to speak at the top of your scoring chart, you would expect that it’s going to improve in the next year. But quite frankly, Maureen Stormont had an impressive first year. Jennifer Smith as well for that matter, she was a complete surprise to most coaches. The way we play is so premised on possessing the ball; we’re typically going to have a number of players that are going to be near the top of our scoring. We don’t typically have a primary person, so it’s going to get spread around and some years it’s going to be different players. Smith, being a midfielder, could fall into the shadow a little bit more and perhaps not have as many opportunities. Maybe a different midfielder gets on the end of some of those opportunities she had last fall. Obviously Stormont needs to be productive for us. She’s a force up front and Dani Potter is a very dangerous player. I see Potter probably having a little bit more of the spotlight this year. Coaches really respect her, and she’s a definite threat. It’s difficult [for the opposition] to manage both Potter and Stormont at the same time and it will be our challenge to not allow both of them to get shut down at the same time.
Do you see anyone on your roster ready to experience a breakout season?
Our junior players are more defensive players; they’re not attacking type players. As far as our seniors go, Abby Serreyn has brought us really good consistency in her play. As a part-time forward and an attacking role player she’s someone who could break out. Kelsey Gratz, is another candidate, but you could deem last year a breakout for her with a couple goals. Like I said, Potter and Stormont are going to be the tip of the spear. Anything that happens after that is going to be a bit of a surprise
What are your expectations for this year's senior class?
Our five seniors will be our leadership group. I expect them to be starters, and to earn starting roles. I expect them to be our competitive leaders, whether it’s in training or during matches. And to be good role models: which they are.
The additions of Minot State and Sioux Falls to the NSIC fold bring the league to 16 teams. How will that affect the Bulldogs this fall?
I think it’s going to make it more difficult for all teams, simply because of the added travel that is now required. Formerly, teams may have chosen to use those two games more out of convenience, or to play more preparatory opponents for the season. We’ve always chosen to travel and play tough competition, so I don’t think that will affect us. I think just having more games in a conference race makes it difficult for everybody, and therefore it’s going to be more competitive.
Tell us about your crop of newcomers.
Leah Nesheim is a D II caliber player for sure with tremendous speed. She’ll be a good flank player at this level. Katie Peterson is a good, skilled transitional player. From middle-third to attacking-third she has creativity and good ball skills. She understands attacking play. Kate McMahon is your prototypical big target forward, kind of in the Stormont mold. Needs to do a little bit of maturing on the attacking side of the ball. She needs to get acclimated to the pressures and physical play of college ball and I think shell be fine Lizzy Larson is similar to McMahon in the Stormont mold. Once again it’s going to be an adjustment getting used to the size and speed. Jackie Sorenson is athletic and quick. Has a good team personality, She’s very visible in the team dynamic. I see her as providing some real good substance to the chemistry of the team. Lasly we have Rachelle Belott, who is a steady, consistent, smooth central midfielder. She nderstands transition and good possession tactics.
What will define a successful season for your team?
Advancing further than we did last year. Any team wants to do that the next year. Teams that win titles want to win the title again the next year -- in better fashion. Obviously we want to progress. We want to get into the national tournament. And it’s a difficult path to get there. It’s a challenging conference schedule. We’ve been preseason top three every year since we’ve been back in the NSIC. So the coaches obviously see us as a threat or as a good club. In that way, we’re always somewhat of a target. You’re always going to get a team’s best game when you’re in that situation. Last year we rose to that challenge really well. We were preseason No. 2 last year with 11 freshmen -- six who started -- and were still voted there. We answered that challenge with so many young starters. I’m confident that we’ll answer the challenge again and hopefully we do make it to that last day of the NSIC Tournament where we have a shot. That’s where we should be.
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