From staff reports
The Missouri Southern women’s soccer team was picked to finish seventh in the MIAA, but coach Alese Woolard’s expectations are much higher for the Lions.
“We felt like last year was a little bit of a down year for us,” Woolard said. “For us, that is a huge motivation for this year. My expectations are that our team is going to come in ready, learn from the mistakes of last year, move forward and to be back toward the top of the conference like we were a couple of years ago.”
Last season, the Lions started the year 0-5-1 but rebounded to finish 5-5-2 down the stretch. Missouri Southern advanced to the quarterfinals of the MIAA Tournament last season before falling to Central Oklahoma.
Central Missouri was picked to defend its conference title, garnering 11 of the 12 first-place votes. Preaseason No. 23 Central Oklahoma picked up the other first-place vote as it was picked to finish second. Northeastern State, Fort Hays State, Northwest Missouri State and Southwest Baptist were picked third through sixth. Following Missouri Southern at seven were Nebraska-Kearney, Missouri Western, Washburn, Lindenwood and Emporia State.
Missouri Southern will be led by seven seniors — goalkeeper Abby Risner, forwards Kelly White and Tiffany Laughlin, defenders Samantha Zoltanski, Dana Wilhelm and Megan Jenisch, and midfielder Ali Amayo.
“I have several players on my roster who were on the team when we were in the MIAA championship game,” Woolard said. “They know what it feels like and what it takes to get there. So they’re motivated to get back.”
The Lions graduated Megan Stueve, who registered 23 goals in her career.
“We don’t necessarily have a player like we did last year who is going to put 16 goals in the back of the net for us,” Woolard said. “It’s going to need to be more of a team combination, and they’re very aware of that. They know that it’s going to take all the players together.”
Missouri Southern opens the season at home against Southwestern Oklahoma State on Sept. 6.