First-year Norah Jacomen led the Bulldogs with nine goals this past season. Photo by Delaney Hudson.
CALEB DENORME | ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR | firstname.lastname@example.org
One year ago, Norah Jacomen was midway through her senior year at Hardin Valley Academy in Knoxville, Tennessee. Today, the first-year midfielder is an integral part of the women’s soccer program at Butler and has already taken the Big East by storm.
Jacomen played in all 20 games this season as a first year, starting in 19 of the contests. She registered a team-high nine goals and finished third in the Big East in scoring, something that co-head coach Rob Alman knew she could do from the start of her career as a Bulldog.
“She’s a fantastic finisher,” Alman said. “Just a deadly finisher in and around the box and some of the finishes this year [have been] top level goals. Really good composure in those moments especially for a young player.”
Those “deadly finishes” are something that Alman noticed a few years back, when the Butler coaching staff began evaluating Jacomen. Ranked as the number six player in the South Region, Jacomen was a prized recruit for the Bulldog program and Alman’s coaching staff.
“[She’s] one of those players that the first time we saw her play, we were like [wow],” Alman said. “There’s something about her. That attacking mentality and mindset is pretty hard to find.”
That mindset won over the coaches, and eventually landed Jacomen at Butler. Despite her extensive experience in high school soccer and Elite Club National League, there was still a learning curve when it came to adapting to Division I college soccer. Even though she excelled in her first season, Jacomen recognized that there is a jump from high school to college.
“The speed of play was really fast,” Jacomen said. “You’re playing with really good players, and they’re really good at getting the ball off their feet. I think that was a lot different than what I was used to, but I think by the first month when you start getting into games, you can adjust to it a little bit.”
Jacomen adjusted quickly and became a starter by just the second game of the season. From there, she led the team in goals, shots, shots on goal and points. Her performance not only caught the attention of people around Butler, but also around the entire Big East. She was voted Big East Freshman of Week three times and ultimately was named Big East Freshman of the Year as well as All-Big East Third Team.
“[Big East Freshman of the Year] was something that I obviously really wanted to try and work for,” Jacomen said. “And I did have my team around me. That really did encourage me. They would tell me, ‘Oh we want you to win Big East Freshman of the Year’ … so I think that’s something I had always in the back of my head.”
The award was handed out to a member of the Butler women’s soccer program for the second straight year — sophomore midfielder Talia Sommer won it after the 2022 season. As a former Big East Freshman of the Year recipient and a member of the All-Big East First team this season, Sommer has high praise for her teammate.
“I’d say she’s fierce,” Sommer said. “She’s someone to be scared of. If I was a center back on the other team, I’d be scared. It’s such a great tool to have a player like Norah that you know when the ball gets to that position, there is a great chance for a goal. It gives a lot of calmness and confidence to her teammates.”
A promising young crop of players led by Jacomen and Sommer has set the Bulldogs up for an exciting future. After sneaking into the Big East Tournament this year before crashing out against UConn, the squad is looking forward to next year and the challenges ahead. Alman knows that his team is only getting hungrier for titles, and younger players like Jacomen excelling so early in their career is paramount for the program.
“Pushing on in terms of competing for championships in the Big East is always a goal, and having those players that want to achieve that is important,” Alman said. “There’s a drive there from those players and ultimately chasing a bid into the NCAA Tournament. From a competitive standpoint those players want those things.”
Despite the individual achievements in her impressive first season, Jacomen knows there is room for improvement. She is not resting on her accomplishments; she wants to get better as an individual and as a team.
“I think I’m really looking forward to learning more about the game,” Jacomen said. “Also, just taking what the coaches have taught me over the past couple months and using it to produce even more than I did last season.”
Production is one thing. Having a community of support is another. Luckily for Jacomen and the rest of the Bulldog soccer team, there is a balance of both that anyone can see. Jacomen did not downplay how important that aspect of college soccer is, especially having a support system from your teammates.
“I think having that connection is really important for how we play,” Jacomen said. “We’ll still hold each other accountable for things, but it’s all positive, and it’s all for good meaning.”
With her first season under her belt, Jacomen will take the accolades and statistics in stride, but with time another season will roll around, and it will be time to start again. The star-studded first year does not show signs of contentment or satisfaction with her game. She simply wants to be the best she can and help bring Butler championships.
“We’re focusing on moving forward and getting better,” Alman said. “[Jacomen is] ready to just get back to work … and really just existing in the same place that she has been so far, which is ‘how do I help my team the most?’ If she stays committed to that, I think there’s a really bright future for her.”