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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student

sports women's soccer

Nouanesengsy leads team


Lisa Nouanesengsy’s statistics speak for themselves.

The senior midfielder’s 56 career points and 24 career goals are both sixth most all-time at IU. Her three hat tricks are the most of any Hoosier.

She has played in 79 games, starting 77, making her the sixth most experienced all-time.

Her 11 goals and three assists this season earned her second team All-Big Ten selection. Her play has etched her name in the IU record books as one of the most colorful offensive players in school history.

But her coaches and teammates said an immeasurable trait separates Nouanesengsy from other players.

“She’s the engine that makes us go,” IU Coach Amy Berbary said. “People want to play for her. I want to succeed for her.”

Along with running the IU women’s soccer offense through the midfield, Nouanesengsy has been the leader off the field.

She has been behind a number of the motivational strategies the team has rallied around this year, from being a part of “#12ISEABOVE” to the “play every game like it’s your last” attitude.

“She’s our leader,” junior forward Monica Melink said. “She just sets an example for us all on how to compete at the highest level.”

Her teammates and coaches said Nouanesengsy has made a habit of pushing her teammates to try to match her work ethic.

“She’s really not afraid of calling people out and making sure our team has the same goals with trying to win,” Melink said.

Nouanesengsy said she inherited her work ethic from her parents, Sam and Bouvanh.

Her parents immigrated to the United States from Laos in 1981 following a civil war there that ended in 1975. Thousands of Laotian people migrated to other parts of the world to escape the communistic government coming to power.

“I’ve seen them work hard to raise four kids and to help me go to college,” Nouanesengsy said. “They’ve really inspired me to work hard at everything I do and take advantage of every opportunity I get.”

Berbary said her willingness to improve has been evident in the gains she has made both statistically and mentally.

“She’s just so good technically, and she just wants to learn,” Berbary said. “Her maturity as a person and a player just helps her lead this team.”

Nouanesengsy has been the anchor of a Hoosier offense that broke single-season school records in goals (43), assists (45) and — most unexpectedly — wins (15).

She has led IU to the postseason for the first time since 2007. It’s a place where Nouanesengsy, despite her individual success, had never been.

Her journey to the big dance came unexpectedly in a year marred with change and doubt.

Former IU Coach Mick Lyon — the man responsible for bringing Nouanesengsy to IU — retired. In his place is Berbary, a first-year head coach.

IU was expected to rebuild and was selected to finish 12th in the preseason Big Ten Coaches’ Poll.

But rebuilding was not an option for Nouanesengsy. She wanted to make one last shot at a postseason run, which Berbary assured her could happen.

“It was just reassuring that when she came in she told us it wasn’t going to be a rebuilding year,” Nouanesengsy said. “It’s my last year, I didn’t have time to rebuild this program.”

Not settling for a rebuilding season paid off. IU will travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., for a second round NCAA Tournament match against top-seeded North Carolina at 6 p.m. Friday.

The postseason run has been Nouansengsy’s first and only chance to play on the biggest stage in collegiate soccer.

“Being in the postseason in my last year is great,” Nouanesengsy said.  “Some people don’t get to experience it at all in their four years. I’m really excited to be playing, especially playing a great team like North Carolina.”

Junior midfielder Rebecca Dreher said there is a little extra motivation to win knowing that it is Nouanesengsy’s first and final chance at an NCAA Tournament run.

“Lisa’s an unbelievable player, someone I’ll never forget playing with and somebody who we need to win this game for,” Dreher said.

For Nouanesengsy, Friday will be the 80th time she takes the field wearing an IU uniform and just her second time surrounded by the NCAA Tournament logo. She said all she can do is take it one game at a time.

“I’m going into this game on Friday how I’ve been every game this year,” Nouanesengsy said. “You just have to go into it like it’s your last.”

Regardless of the outcome of Friday’s game, Berbary said Nouanesengsy’s impression on the program is undeniable.

“She will be a player that has left her mark on Indiana soccer forever,” Berbary said. “A lot of people go through college soccer and play, but Lisa will be remembered.”

Follow women's soccer reporter Sam Beishuizen on Twitter @Sam_Beishuizen.

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