Expectations high for Lions

Picked second in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association preseason poll, women’s soccer Lions Head Coach Trevor Wachsman is looking to both returnees and incoming talent to bolster the team’s core.

“We have a few new faces,” Wachsman said, “but on the whole we are returning the same group, which gives us familiarity.”

The Lions opened the season against a tough opponent in Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, a team ranked twenty-third in the nation. The Lions fell 1-0.

“The weather was tough, but we did play well,” he said. “We took advantage of the stoppages and created pressure chances in the second half.”

The Lions recorded their first victory of the season with a 1-0 win over the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Goalkeeper Kaney Tyler had two saves, and Stephanie Haines scored the lone goal of the game with the assist from Nikki Llewellyn in the twentieth minute.

Wachsman indicated that the Lions will not earn any easy victories.

“Our schedule won’t be easy,” he said. ” Our strength of schedule is as strong as any team in the country.”

Facing two nationally ranked teams within the first four games will certainly be a test to the squad.

“Facing a Nebraska-Omaha team that is ranked number-one in the nation and North Dakota certainly makes a stepping stone to prepare us for conference play,” he said. “It will help us to set the tone for each game.”

University of North Dakota coach Brock Thompson looks forward to facing the Lions.

“Certainly all four teams in Omaha have high aspirations for the 2006 season,” Thompson said. “We are expecting play-off level matches against both Missouri Southern and Truman State.”

Garnering such a high preseason ranking has the Lions as one of the teams to beat this season.

“We’ve had the privilege of being a target last season”, Wachsman said. “No doubt, teams see us as a challenge; a game we get up for. We have to respect each team and expect their best.”

That type of respect for other teams is one of the reasons that the Lions won the Gold Team Ethics Award. According to Wachsman, having the ethics award for three years is unusual but pleasurable. (WHAT IS THIS AWARD)

“It speaks to sportsmanship of players and quality of play on field.”

As a team, that respect is something not just given but earned.

“Missouri Southern is a quality side that seems to have nearly everyone returning,” Thompson said. “Trevor had done great things with the program and our match with them will be a great early season test for us.”

The Lions return to action Saturday, Sept. 2, when they face North Dakota in Omaha, Neb., and Sunday, Sept. 3, against defending Division II National Champions Nebraska-Omaha.