MARQUETTE - Northern Michigan University head soccer coach is not a fan of the term, "rebuilding."
It's something he hasn't had to use either in his previous eight seasons.
Up until now, Granstrand has been able to reload. Not this season, however.
Northern Michigan University junior defender Kaylagh Hollen dribbles the ball during a warm-up drill on Monday at the NMU Soccer Fields outside the Superior Dome. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
"It's kind of exciting because after years of talented older teams - which is wonderful - now it's brand new," Granstrand said prior to the team's first practice on Monday. "This is a rebuilding year. That's a term I've never used in my life, but if I ever was going to use it, this would be the year I use it."
Granstrand's 2012 Wildcats feature nine freshmen, some of whom may be expected to step into the starting lineup this season to replace the eight seniors that departed at the end of last season.
Two of the more notable departures included leading scorer Chelsea Lyons and starting goaltender Jessica Baker, who was a senior academically but had a year of NCAA eligibility left she chose not to use.
"There are a bunch of new faces," Granstrand said. "We had a senior-laden team the last couple years. They're all gone now. It's a brand-new team. We have 19 underclassmen out of 25, so we're young.
"It's a little bit of a mystery, but that's the fun of it."
While Lyons, her seven goals, seven assists and seven other seniors are gone, Granstrand and the Wildcats do return their next six leading scorers from 2011 in sophomore Tevun Sellers, senior Amelia Johnson, senior KC McCary, sophomore Kim Rietveld, senior Brekelle Sellers and sophomore Nicole Musi, who will battle redshirt freshman Shelby Conrad for goalkeeping duties this fall.
"Last year, we had some injuries," Granstrand said. "We had to have some brand-new players step in and play and they did a fantastic job.
"We're going to spend the next week tinkering with ideas and trying to find the direction we want to go."
Northern scrimmaged on Monday and will do so again tonight and Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the NMU soccer fields.
The Wildcats open the season at 5 p.m. on Aug. 30 at home against Minnesota-Duluth.
Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.