While recruiting the Chicago area as a women’s soccer coach, Brian Bahl saw a dynamic athlete from Cary-Grove with a bright future.
When Bahl, then the head coach at Upper Iowa University, learned that Korey Kronforst chose to attend Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference rival Minnesota State, he was exasperated.
“I said, ‘Oh great, we’ve got to deal with her for four years,’” Bahl said.
Last spring, Bahl recounted the story to Kronforst when he became the head coach of Minnesota State after six seasons at Upper Iowa.
“It was really fun to hear that story when we first met,” said Kronforst, a sophomore forward.
This fall, Kronforst has lived up to Bahl’s expectations and then some while helping the NCAA Division II Mavericks (17-2-2) win the regular season and NSIC tournament titles while being named the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year and earning a spot on the all-conference first team.
Kronforst’s team- and conference-leading 18 goals and 43 points rank sixth in NCAA Division II for No. 7 MSU.
“It was very clear to me early on that she would be a big impact player,” Bahl said. “I knew she was going to be a player we would lean on for production.”
After scoring seven goals off the bench last season for a team that made the NCAA’s Elite Eight, Kronforst’s role became more central to the MSU attack this season when Bahl moved her to the center of the field. Last year, Kronforst played an outside position.
“I can turn any direction instead of just going up and down the lines,” Kronforst said.
The move, according to Bahl, suits his star player quite well.
“No. 1, she’s tenacious,” he said. “She plays 100 miles an hour all the time. She knows the game so well. And, she’s got great speed. At the D-II level, it’s hard to find a forward who is the total package. Those factors are hard to find all together in one player at our level.”
Kronforst, a special education major who earned academic all-district honors last month for her 3.53 grade-point average, and her teammates will begin the postseason at 1 p.m. Sunday after a first-round bye in this weekend’s regional.
If MSU wins Sunday, the Mavericks would host games in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds in Mankato, where the team has a 36-match unbeaten streak.
“I love playing on our home field,” Kronforst said. “There’s just something about it. … It’s been really fun for our team (this season), and for me to be a big part of it.”
Northern Sun standouts: The NSIC women’s soccer awards also included Huntley grad Aimee Wronski of Upper Iowa being recognized as Newcomer of the Year and a member of the first team.
A transfer from Illinois State, Wronski ranked third in the conference with 15 goals and 36 points this season while posting a league-best 105 shots for the Peacocks (15-5). The junior forward helped UIU to a school-record 12 conference wins this season while collected eight game-winning goals.
UIU senior defender Kelsey Taldone (Crystal Lake South) was named second-team All-NSIC, while sophomore midfielder Madie Edwards (Crystal Lake Central) was chosen for the third team. Taldone helped the team post eight shutouts and allow 22 goals this season while contributing a career-best three assists. Edwards ranked second on the team in goals (11), assists (five) and points (27) and contributed two game-winning goals.
Aubert is a champ: Arkansas State junior cross country runner Kristina Aubert became her school’s first conference champion Nov. 2 when she won the Sun Belt Conference individual title.
Aubert, a Crystal Lake South grad, won the 5-kilometer race in Troy, Ala., in 17 minutes, 28.2 seconds, which was 19 seconds better than the rest of the field.
While earning first-team All-Sun Belt honors, Aubert helped the D-I Red Wolves win the first conference title as a team in school history.
Winona sack master: Prairie Ridge grad Collin Corcoran ranks second this season in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference with 7.5 sacks.
A sophomore linebacker at D-II Winona (Minn.) State, Corcoran leads the team in sacks and tackles for loss (9.5). His 50 total tackles rank third on the team for the Warriors (6-4).
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at BarryOnCampus@hotmail.com, check out his On Campus blog at McHenryCountySports.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryOnCampus.