Following up one of the best seasons in Griffon soccer history is not an easy task, but coach Chad Edwards expects a follow-up and more this season.
The 2017 season saw the Griffons finish as the runner-up in both the MIAA regular season and postseason championships behind eventual national champion Central Missouri. It was the highest-ever MIAA finish for the program. The team shattered program records for wins (17), points (137), goals (51) and assists (35) in a season along with countless other individual and team records.
Coach Edwards is excited not only for his returners, but also his new players, in which he sees a lot of potential.
“A lot of these girls, they commit their sophomore year, and we’ve known they were coming here for a while, but the girls we got here have so much talent and potential. I’m very excited for this year and the future of our team,” Edwards said.
Edwards became the program’s all-time wins leader in 2016 and took the team from a 2-13-3 record in 2012 to a 17-5 NCAA Central Region Championships qualifying mark in 2017.
Another coach worth talking about is Assistant coach Ashley Haflett, the first assistant coach in Westerns soccer history.
Athletic Director Josh Looney talked about the hiring of coach Haflett.
“We saw that all the other sports teams had assistant coaches except for soccer, and we knew that had to change, but we didn’t have the budget for it,” Looney said. “In the end, we applied for a grant through the NCAA, and we got picked, so now we have an assistant coach for soccer.”
Haflett also talked about the new recruits and the returners.
“I’m very happy with the team I’ve met and the players. They’re very confident and happy to be back with soccer,” Haflet said. “Having starters and leaders like Cassidy Menke, Bailey Ketcham, among others return, makes me happy for the team this year.”
One name mentioned by Haflett that’s returning is Menke, and her stat line was long last year. She broke her own MWSU single season goals record with 15, led the MIAA with 14 regular season goals, led the MIAA with 121 shots and finished third in the MIAA with 33 total points.
Coach Edwards is really hoping to bring a very defensive mindset to this seasons team; just like last season.
“I think my mindset is that we can’t lose if we don’t allow a goal, if they don’t score we will win, and that’s why defense is so important to me,” Edwards said. “I know my team can score goals, so I teach them not to concede any, and that’ll be our key to winning.”
There are high expectations this year for the Griffons soccer team, from the outside and from the inside, but Edwards, and the rest of the team are ready for this season, and that will start on Aug. 31 against Ouachita Baptist, in Searcy, Arkansas.