What better team to play for the season opener than Southwestern Oklahoma, the team that gave head coach Chad Edwards his first ever collegiate win almost a year ago.
This season will be critical as to discovering whether or not Edwards has what it takes to push the girls in the right direction toward a winning program.
A big push is especially what they need since the MIAA has Missouri Western sitting dead last in the preseason polls. Although it finished ninth last year, and for the most part has a pretty young squad still with six returning starters, including stud goalkeeper Kelly Voigts, the MIAA still expects 12 teams to finish better. If you look at the glass half-empty, it feels like a slap in the face. If you look at it half-full, the worst case scenario is that they won’t be a disappointment.
“Being picked last in the conference definitely gives motivation knowing the only way we can go is up,” Voigts said. “So if we just stick together, I think we will surprise people in this conference.”
The last meeting Western had with Southwestern Oklahoma ended in a 2-0 win in Edmond, Okla. Voigts recorded 10 saves in the Griffons’ only shutout of the season.
“It was nice getting the shutout,” Voigts said. “Knowing that we’ve done it before gives us confidence that we can do it again, and I know we can do it again, so I’m excited.”
Voigts found help from the freshman, now sophomore, K.C. Ramsell, who scored both goals on three shots.
“That was my first game I ever played in college,” Ramsell said, “so I think I was kind of nervous and didn’t know what to expect. Scoring those two goals really gave me confidence.”
For Western to have scores like that this season, it will need a combined effort from the five senior leaders, five experienced juniors, seven talented sophomores, and the four high potential freshmen that will let us know just how skilled Edwards is in recruiting.
As Voigts made clear, sticking together will be the key to the success level of this season. Starting off the season against a team that was arguably their best game last season is a perfect storm of a season opener when it comes to getting off to a good start. We’ll find out whether or not the Griffons have what it takes to compete in this conference at Spratt Stadium at 7:30 p.m., Friday Aug. 31.