A 4-12 season may not be the echo of a good year, but itâ€™s a start. Ask the Missouri Western womenâ€™s soccer team.
After coming off of a poor 1-15 record in their second season, the Griffons exceeded expectation and the preseason coachâ€™s poll by finishing outside the bottom of the table for the first time in school history. Outstanding and miraculous may not be the key words here, but itâ€™s a start.
Several key games stand out in the season that serves as reminders of this teamâ€™s potential. The Griffs proved that they could put up a fight in a very tough conference.
The Griffons put up two strong wins against conference rival Emporia State, including a two goal victory on the road. Even top ranked teams were in danger. No. 13 in the nation, Central Missouri State, luckily pulled out an overtime win at Spratt Stadium early in the season. The top ranked MIAA team, Truman State University, had to fight off the Griffons this past week with a one goal win that the Griffonsâ€™ forced them to earn.
The Griffons will say goodbye to two integral parts of their game plan; All-MIAA player and leading scorer Meigan Soo and goalkeeper Shaylynn Milbourn. Power midfielder and assist leader Michaella Guadiana and defender Emily Howat also depart from this yearâ€™s team.Â
Even though the team may be losing some key players, there are some bright spots that are evident.
The first is that the core of the team is young and has had more experience on the field than any other team in the MIAA. The Griffonâ€™s managed to put all but five players on the roster in double digit appearances in a 17 game season. This young roster will most likely be returning players with more game experience than all but one other team in the conference. The second is that the Griffons have a strong track record of recruiting transfer students. Milbourn and Soo were both transfer pickups that turned out to be key in building the young program.
The biggest problem that the Griffons will have to overcome is their lack of offensive production. The team managed only 15 goals on 151 shots while their opponents pulled off an impressive 332 shots, scoring on 47 of them. Typically, the Griffons run a 4-4-2 setup that helps control the tempo of the game, but may not result in a great deal of shots being put on goal. With more experienced players returning, including five midfielders, the Griffons look to be able to put together a team that can keep ball control up while sending the ball to their forwards.
This is a young team with potential that has not put all the pieces together. This season while entertaining at times is not the best that will result from this squad in the future. With some key offseason moves, the Lady Griffons might be able to piece together a run into the conference tournament.