By: Harry Loomis
While the record doesn’t look great, the Missouri Western women’s soccer team seems to be turning a corner.
After a very solid weekend, which saw them tie against Wayne State and defeat Sioux Falls, the team currently sits at 1-2-1 after two weeks of action. While they didn’t score their first goal of the season until Sunday, coach Chad Edwards’ team has definitely had their fair share of chances. This Griffons had 48 shots this weekend with 15 of those being on goal. Even though only two of those shots went in – both by Ashley Mathis – the fact that they are getting this many chances is very encouraging.
Looking ahead, the Griffons have two games this weekend against Missouri Southern and Northwest Missouri. The Griffons have dominated Missouri Southern as of late having won the last five meetings against the Lions with sophomore goalie Anna Mayer picking up the clean sheet in last year’s 1-0 Griffon victory. As for Northwest, the Griffons have picked up the last seven victories. In fact, the Bearcats have not scored a goal in this rivalry since October 28, 2016, a 2-1 Griffon victory. Missouri Western won last year’s games by scores of 4-0 and 1-0 respectively, with juniors Claire Meyers, Jordan Jennings, and Taylor Schwartzkopf scoring goals in the victories.
History suggests that this weekend could see a lot of goal scoring for the young Griffons.
One key issue – if you even want to call it that – is that the team is very young. The team currently has eight freshmen and not a single senior. The starting lineup Edwards has been going with consists of five juniors, five sophomores and a freshman. Not having any seniors is a pretty unique for a team, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you look into it.
The offense has had no issues generating chances. Just this weekend alone out of the 48 shots they registered, Schwartzkopf had 12 of the shots with six being on goal while Claire Meyers added 10 shots, three of those going on goal. Off the bench, junior Mathis and freshman Tina Palmieri have each recorded three shots, with Mathis scoring each of the team’s two goals. While the shots haven’t been going in much yet, with this many chances, that issue is bound to fix itself.
The defense has been outstanding recently, having given up just one goal this past weekend. The three-person defensive core of sophomores Kelsey Burkey, Tori Barrett and junior Jordan Jennings have done a great job of limiting Wayne State and Sioux Falls to a combined 12 shot attempts. Out of those shots, six have been on goal, and Mayer has been there almost every time. The second-year starting sophomore has gotten off to a great start this season with 35 saves to five goals, a save percentage of .875. From the start of the season, she single handedly kept the team in some games, like her 18 saves against Rockhurst. She’s continued to play well while the offense has picked it up, which is obviously a great combination.
While it may be hard to determine how far the team goes this year compared to years past where they’ve been fairly successful, the future is very bright for the Griffons. Edwards has done a great job recruiting a great group of players, and with not having any seniors, the team has more time to gel together and develop team chemistry. So in a few years, Missouri Western soccer will be very tough to beat.