Can Poitras right the ship in year 2?
Tom Poitras’s first year as the Norse head coach is one he will likely want to forget, as his boys finished with a 4-11-2 record, going just 2-6-1 in Horizon League play. Hopefully, The Norse will be going into 2023 with the mind of a goldfish, looking to improve on a solid 3-3-1 home record and fixing the troubles that plagued them on the road.
The Norse will return quite a few players from the 2022 roster; 15 out of the 27 players are back in Highland Heights on a quest for revenge. Notable returners include junior midfielder Simon Knuewe and senior defensive midfielder Roberto Burlew, who were the only 2 Norse to start all 17 matches last season. 2022 leading scorer joins them, graduate forward Sam Robinson, who led the Norse with 6 goals last season. Other notable players are redshirt sophomore keeper Nic Lemen (the only returning keeper with playing time), sophomore defender Wade Stinson (who started in all 16 games he played), graduate attacking forward Ben Hegge (who appeared in all 17 matches, starting 15), and sophomore attacking midfielder Parker Vasic (started in 5 matches last season).
So, while the Norse are returning over half the roster from last year, only 6 out of the 15 returners got notable playing time in 2022. I expect to see more from Poitras’s first 2 recruiting classes as he begins his turnaround of the Norse to restore them to the glory they saw in their DII days but have not seen since they fully joined D1 in 2016. In addition to a likely reliance on his underclassmen, Poitras brought in 6 transfers featuring 2 keepers and 4 defender/defensive midfielders. The transfers include – Sophomore keeper Romeo Paparesta from Bellevue University, junior keeper Will Nicholson from Bradley University, sophomore defensive midfielder Sander Heggheim from Friends University, senior defender Caleb Mundell from Indianapolis, junior defensive midfielder Douglas Fajardo from Ranger College, and junior defender Jacob Haskins from Robert Morris.
The veteran newcomers mixed in with the returners, and the new recruiting class will bolster a side that was constantly within matches, with 7 of their 11 losses being by just 1 goal. If the Norse can solidify their defense and get their young attack to work well together, they can be a dark horse in the Horizon League, maybe even with a shot at the tournament title. Coach Poitras commented on their schedule of matches, saying, “We are excited for some of the new non-conference opponents that we have this year,” Coach Poitras continued. “This schedule will challenge our team and prepare us for the Horizon League this fall.”
Notable Additions – Outside of the transfer mentioned above
Nico Stoddart (F) – Senior transfer from St. Francis University
Yonatan Cohen (M/ST) – Freshman from Ramat Gan, Israel
Edis Alic (D) – Freshman from club Östers IF in Sweden
Bennett Gerak (MF) – Freshman from Hebron, KY
JJ Brown (W/F) – Freshman from Madisonville, KY
Home opener vs. UAB – Thursday, August 24th at 5 pm EST/4 pm CST
At Bellarmine – Monday, September 24th at 7 pm EST/6 pm CST
Vs. Robert Morris (Horizon) – Saturday, September 9th at 7 pm EST/6 pm CST
Vs. Detroit Mercy (Horizon) – Saturday, September 23rd at 7 pm EST/6 pm CST
Vs. W. Illinois – Tuesday, September 26th at 6 pm EST/5 pm CST
Vs. Green Bay – Saturday, October 7th at 7 pm EST/6 pm CST
Vs. IUPUI – Saturday, October 14th at 7 pm EST/6 pm CST
Final game at Wright St. – Wednesday, November 1st at 2 pm EST/1 pm CST
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