Men’s, women’s soccer starting season ahead

The men’s and women’s soccer teams are starting their seasons strong with winning percentages at .500 and higher. 

The men are on a four-game winning streak after defeating Purdue Northwest University and William Jewell College 2-1 and sweeping Quincy University and Rockhurst University. The women are also having a noteworthy start to the season with a 2-1 conference record and 2-2-1 record overall.

Midfield defender Jake Koenig said the team is doing well overall. Koenig said the men have had a game plan — developed through practice and watching film — going into every match-up and it shows on the field through the team’s chemistry. The team’s chemistry on and off the field make it easier to play, Koenig said.

He said the team’s main focus is on making it to the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament, which typically means the ’Dogs need to get at least an even number of wins and losses. 

“Every game’s a battle,” Koenig said. “We know that we have what it takes to get to the Tournament, so we’ve just been building off that. I think the confidence is really flowing throughout the group right now.”

While the competition is tough, Koenig said the Bulldogs are looking to make some noise and turn heads in the conference this season. He said the men are fully expecting a win this weekend. 

Despite a couple injury setbacks so far this season, Koenig said the depth of the team is strong and the quality of play shouldn’t change.

“We got a lot of guys coming off the bench that are hungry and wanting to show themselves that they can break that starting lineup,” Koenig said. 

Women’s soccer head coach Mike Cannon said the season is going well, but it would be nice to have another win or two. Cannon explained that the competition is tough, but he is happy to see the Bulldogs near the top of the conference early.

Cannon said the team gave its conference competitors everything they could handle.

“We’re not where we want to be yet, but we’re making strides each game,” Cannon said. “Our passing is getting better, we’re kind of getting on the same page a bit more … and we scored more this weekend, but we also gave up more goals.”

Midfielder Anna Meyer said while the season has started out rough, the team is finding its stride. Meyer said the games against Rockhurst and William Jewell were back and forth. She scored the tie-breaking goal against William Jewell with less than a minute left in regulation time.

“I shot it right by the outside of the goalie box and it went in and everyone went crazy,” Meyer said. “I looked at the clock and realized this was the last minute and I just scored and it was just kind of unbelievable.” 

Meyer said the women expected to win both games last weekend, so the loss against Rockhurst was a hit. 

Cannon said he likes the direction the team is heading in and thinks the women are getting better at taking advantage of the opportunities that are presented on the field. Sunday’s game against William Jewell was more indicative of last season’s play, he explained, but the team found ways to come from behind and win, even if it wasn’t pretty.

The team dynamic has been a crucial part of the team’s success so far, Meyer said. The relationships on and off the field help to form a more in-sync dynamic.

The Bulldogs are working on passing and maintaining possession of the ball, as well as coordinating a strong defense to minimize the number of scoring attempts, Cannon said. While the women aren’t taking as many shots, he said the ones that are taken are effective.

The ’Dogs are expecting a couple more difficult matchups this weekend traveling to University of Indianapolis Friday and returning home to face off against Bellarmine University Sunday. The team has one road win under its belt, but Cannon said the women are looking for more results away from home.

Like the men, the women have received a few injuries, but Cannon said the depth of the team and similar skill levels ensure the caliber of play won’t drop.

Both teams will compete Sept. 27 against University of Indianapolis at 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., respectively.