HELENA — The 2023 Carroll College women’s soccer team has only three seniors returning this season, such as Emily Funseth from Great Falls CMR whose distribution and creativity in the midfield has helped her become one of the team's most reliable facilitators.
There are eight incoming freshmen who are ready to step up and lead the fight for the Saints this season, such as Billings West standout Maria Ackerman. Ackerman was a member of the Bears back-to-back Class AA championship teams prior to coming to Carroll.
“Obviously I am new to the program, so I don’t know much yet, but we wanted to have fun. Obviously, we’re here to win, but (we're) working out the bumps, and finding things that we need to work on in the upcoming weeks before we start conference was really important to us, so yeah, good start,” said Ackerman.
Along with the two new freshmen goalkeepers in Ackerman and Katie Gilb, who is from Spokane, Wash. Brynn Johnson is another face you’ll begin recognize; she was named team MVP her senior year in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Johnson scored the first goal for Carroll in their friendly scrimmage against Casper College last Saturday.
“I was playing holding-mid, usually I am a center-defender, which (is) kind of a new thing for me, so playing that in my first college game was a little nerve-racking, but I was confident with everything and I just took my shot and it went in,” said Johnson.
As a new freshman on campus, there will be plenty to learn both on and off the soccer field this fall, but Johnson is excited and eager to be at Carroll.
“It feels amazing, I just love everything, all the surroundings, the whole stadium, everyone in the crowd, just playing with the team, I just feel right at home here," she said.
Although it may be a new year, head coach David Thorvilson expects the eight freshmen to have an immediate impact, saying: “Ultimately, as a coach you always want to be battling for a chance at a conference championship and hopefully a birth to nationals. That doesn’t change from year to year.”
In reference to their first match of the young season, Thorvilson said “everyone got a few minutes and they’re going to make it very difficult for me when it’s time put a starting eleven out for a real game.”
Carroll will face Northwestern College (Iowa) at home on Aug. 26 before playing the University of Providence at Nelson Stadium on Sept. 4.
Meanwhile, Carroll's men's team will be back at home Sept. 21 versus Multnomah University for Cascade Conference play.