After starting the ball rolling with two weeks of demanding preseason practices, the Missouri Western women’s soccer team has high hopes for the 2009 season.
The Griffons finished the 2008 season with a 2-15-3 record and are looking to get better in all aspects of their game to generate more wins.
“Obviously we want to improve,” head coach Jeff Hansen said. “I don’t ever put a number on the wins, but I’ve seen a lot of talent these first few days.”
The team graduated four seniors last season, and has brought in nine new recruits to fill their spots. With a mix of upperclassmen leaders and talented newcomers, the Griffons have shown a lot of promise in the first weeks of preseason.
Fourteen players will return to the squad this year, however, the team has no seniors on the roster.
“We look at not having any seniors as a good thing because leadership can be a two year process, so whatever we do this year it should be even better next year,” Hansen said. “We’ll rely on our nine juniors to point us in the right direction all the time and take the team over at times. That way I don’t have to do everything, because they know what we’re looking for.”
Missouri Western’s freshman class includes many quick forwards that can help the team score more goals, which was a part of the game they struggled with last year.
“We’re really focusing on being a more offensive team,” junior goalie Jenna Weis said. “We’ve brought in so many amazing offensive players that we’re looking to have step up and help us with our offensive game so we can stay in the games more with our competition. Our defense is solid, we are just looking to finish.”
According to Hansen, many younger members of the team may see playing time right away.
“I think we’ve got some impact freshmen and sophomores. Some played last year, and some will come in and raise some eyebrows. We have some speed in our freshman class that I don’t think we’ve had here in the past.”
Hansen also said that integrating the new players and the returners will be one of the keys to a successful season.
“We want the people we brought in to get into the mix and be comfortable with the team by the time we open up,” Hansen said. “One of the main goals is having everybody on board by the time we start.”
Overall, the Griffons have a very positive outlook for the 2009 season.
“We should be better,” Hansen said. “This is the deepest and most talented team that we’ve had here since I’ve been here. We’ve just gotten started, so it hasn’t translated in any way yet. I think that this team has the ability to win games and possibly knock off a few top teams when they come in here.”
Junior midfielder Kelsey Bowman agreed that winning more games was important to the team.
“We want to just win more games than we ever have in the past and go as far as we possibly can,” Bowman said.
Missouri Western will open up their season against Newman University at 3:30 on Sat. Aug. 19 at the Northwest Missouri State University Classic.