Woolard: Statistics don’t reflect team’s talent

Cortney Sanders goes in for a slide-tackle on the ball posessed by a Newman University defender last Sunday.

Cortney Sanders goes in for a slide-tackle on the ball posessed by a Newman University defender last Sunday.

By Cody Dyer / Staff Writer

In short, the Missouri Southern women’s soccer team has been down this path before, but head coach Alese Woolard isn’t pressing the panic button.

 Statistically speaking, Woolard said, the numbers (0-2 heading into Thursday’s conference opener at Washburn) do not indicate how well the Lions have played in their first two games.

 “I’ve been pleased with the way our defense has been playing. We have a few minor things to fix, but overall their effort will play a big roll in our game plan,” she said.

 To further underscore her point, Woolard, in her first year as women’s soccer coach, discussed how on any given day, any team in the MIAA can be beaten.

 “The conference is similar every year,” Woolard said, adding there is a marginal gap between who is ranked first and who is ranked last in the league.

“It will probably come down to the last few games of the season to determine who moves on.

 “I feel that we have a very talented team, and that we can compete with any team in our conference.”

 Even so, Southern is still searching for consistency from its offense, particularly after the Lions failed to score against their first two opponents. All things equal, the Lions have as many shot attempts, 22, as their opponents.

In fact, the Lions currently have a better shots on goal percentage, which leads Woolard to believe they are taking significant strides to becoming a better offensive team.

 “We did have some chances during our first few games, and I feel we will create many more as the season progresses,” Woolard said. “We have a very talented team, and I believe they will find a way to put a few of those opportunities away.”

 The good news is, junior midfielder Michelle Dimza continues to create offensive opportunities for the Lions, while junior Randi Russell has been solid at the net.

 “Right now we are working on fine-tuning a few aspects of our game,” Woolard said. “Mainly, continuing to connect better on the offense side, and remaining consistent defensively.

 The Lions, who opened league play at Washburn Thursday, return home at 7 p.m. Saturday for another conference test against Emporia State — picked to finish last in the 2010 MIAA Preseason Soccer Coaches Poll.

 “Washburn has always been a very good team, I don’t expect this year to be any different,” Woolard said. “Emporia has been continually growing stronger in the conference, and they play very hard on the road. It should be a good matchup.”