Defense will set the tone early on


Kurt Montgomery

Senior goalie Beth Hammons clears the ball down field during the Oct. 6, 2013 matchup against Lindenwood at Boden Field. The contest ended in a 0-0 tie after two overtimes.

Missouri Southern soccer players have been practicing 20 hours a week to prepare for the start to the 2014 season.

Players and coaches alike are enthusiastic about the Lions’ chances to make some serious noise in the MIAA standings this year.  

“Our goal is to win the conference championship and be in the national tournament; that’s our expectation,” said head coach Alese Woolard.

“Our practices are just like competition, and that’s what we’ve got to have to get better … It’s got to be as game-like as we can make it,” she said.

The Lions start out the season with a tough schedule.

Five of their first six games will be on the road, with four straight conference games coming after that.  

“The competition is definitely there, so there will be high quality games for us right off the bat,” said Woolard.

After finishing the 2013 season ranked 10th in the conference and missing out on the MIAA tournament, the Lions enter 2014 ranked 10th in the pre-season polls.

Four-time defending conference champion Central Missouri takes the top spot.

Despite the pre-season poll, the team has high hopes of outplaying their current ranking and improving on last year’s performance.

“As a team we are always looking to improve, and we hope to do well enough to finish in the top of the conference, setting us up well to go into the conference tournament,” said junior midfielder Hannah Ishmael.

Junior defender Kacie Hulse believes defense will be one of the team’s strong suits.

“Our goals are to have a winning record and become MIAA champions,” she said. “Also, to have no goals scored against us at home. It will be challenging, but we work on our communication and defensive shape at practice, which will help in the games.”

Despite having 11 new players on the team, chemistry seems to be great.

“Even though we have a bunch of new players, we gel really well together and have potential to have an exciting and successful season,” said Hulse.

The first game of the season will be Tuesday, Sept. 4, at Drury.