Lions shock MIAA, finish second

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Michelle Dimza embraces teammate Samantha Zoltanski after the Lions defeated Lindenwood University in the Lions’ final home game of the season before heading to Kansas City to comepete in the MIAA tournament where they finished second. The Lions beat Southwest Baptist in the opening round, Truman State in the semifinals, and were finally beaten by Central Missouri.

Jeremy Thomas

 

The up and down season of women’s soccer at Missouri Southern has come to its conclusion, which featured the Lions making it to the MIAA tournament championship game. 

In the beginning of the season, it did not look like the Lions would have a successful season, as they dropped their first seven games. 

It seemed as if playing top-ranked teams at the start of the season prompted the Lions to have a good second half of the season, as they played like one of the top teams in conference. 

The Lions played good quality soccer during the last two months of the season, winning nine of their final 12 games on the way to a No. 3 seed in the conference tournament. 

“We got off to a really rocky start and I give a lot of credit to my players for their perseverance. They could have very easily thrown in the towel and gave up, but that is not the type of players on this team,” Head coach Alese Woolard said.  

“They kept working hard and believed in what we were trying to do and I felt like that paid off and earned us the No. 3 seed.”  

The Lions opened the MIAA tournament on Nov. 3 in Kansas City on the campus of the University of Missouri Kansas City against Southwest Baptist University. 

The game was a defensive battle as no team scored in the first half and majority of the second half. The game was bound for overtime until the late heroics of Lions sophomore Dana Wilhelm found the back of the net in minute 87. The lead held up and the Lions defeated the Bearcats in the first round. 

“We finally started to find our chemistry on the field. Where we had failed to connect in the attacking third of the field earlier in the season, we finally were now connecting and finding the back of the net,” Woolard said.

The Lions played the second-seeded Truman State Bulldogs in the semi-finals. The Bulldogs drew first blood as they scored in the 23rd minute. The game would stay this way until there were only 36 seconds left, when junior Megan Stueve tied the game up. 

The game transitioned into overtime where the Lions were able to outduel the bulldogs, as senior Shannon Kuhn connected on a corner kick to win the game, sending the Lions to the conference championship game against The Central Missouri Jennies 

In the championship game, the Jennies got on the scoreboard first in the 42nd minute, but the Lions answered back with a goal of their own in the 60th minute. The Jennies, however, regained the lead in the 69th minute. Later in the half the Jennies put the game out of reach when they scored again in the 82nd minute. The Jennies went on  to claim the conference title. 

“Getting beat in the championship game of the conference tournament is what we will build off of for next year.  We know the level that we need to be at to make it to the national tournament, and falling just short is always good motivation to take into the next year,” Woolard said.