The Missouri Western soccer team made great strides during the 2009 season, finishing with an 8-10-2 record overall and accomplishing the most wins in the program’s history. This fall, the team returns every player and is hoping to continue their success from last fall and make more great things happen.
When it comes to goals, the Griffon soccer team has set the bar high.
“The biggest advantage we have this season is that we are returning 18 starters, so we can sort of hit the ground running,” senior goalkeeper, Jenna Weis, said.
Head coach Jeff Hansen said that Western talked about winning the MIAA conference after the 2009 season had finished.
“Our goal is to win the league,” Hansen said. “Some people may look at that as a ‘wow’ statement, but we saw ourselves as being the fourth best team the way we were playing at the end of the year. We were one game out of fourth by ourselves, and we feel like we had some games that we should have gotten.”
Many of the Griffons’ games were close and could have gone either way this past season. In the 2009 preseason MIAA poll, Western was picked last and by the time the season was over, they had moved up to sixth.
“We went from ninth to sixth, but it could’ve easily been fourth,” Hansen said. “So if we take that next step, our goal is to win the league because I think if we don’t set that goal we are probably short changing ourselves. We jumped three spots, you could argue that we almost jumped five, and then to just say ‘well let’s take third next year,’ that’s just not quite good enough.”
Western has nine seniors on this fall’s roster that will help lead the team to those goals.
“Our seniors, they’ve played almost 60 games in the league,” Hansen said. “We’re hoping that they’re experienced enough and they’ve kind of been through situations that if we go down one nothing in a game, it doesn’t freak everybody out.”
While Western will rely on their veterans for leadership and composure, Hansen also mentioned that some of the younger players will contribute their skills as well.
“We’re going to rely heavily on the seniors for the experience side of things, but we’ve got a lot of talent in the younger groups,” Hansen said.
As always, the MIAA conference will include some matchups with very tough teams. However, Hansen believes the team’s biggest challenge this year will be getting people to realize that Western’s program is a force to be reckoned with.
“This program has not been a conference contender, so people may read my comments and kind of go ‘they’re nuts, they’ve never done it before.’ But you have to have that first team to do it. You have to have somebody step up and have a team step up and just finally do it,” Hansen said.
Hansen is “cautiously optimistic” about the 2010 season and hopes that if all his players stay healthy and that things fall into place, the team can have a great year.