The men’s and women’s soccer teams are maintaining a .500 win percentage as their seasons progress.
The men recently lost to Lewis University 0-3, then to the University of Illinois-Springfield 1-5, but came back to tie against Drury University 0-0 and beat Southwest Baptist University 5-1.
Men’s soccer head coach Duke Cochran said it was good to be back home facing Drury and Southwest Baptist after being on the road five of the past six games.
Defender Will Clayton said the tie against Drury was good coming off a four game losing streak.
Cochran said he hopes the team’s goal can be more lofty than .500, but that is typically a score that can bring the team to the conference tournament. Cochran said the Great Lakes Valley Conference is a difficult league, but there’s hope the Bulldogs can pull ahead of that 50% mark.
“We’ve had a lot of games on the road, so to be where we’re sitting right now is good with the teams we play,” Cochran said.
Getting any points on the road is beneficial, Cochran explained, so the two wins at Rockhurst University and William Jewell College at the start of the season were big for the team.
Despite multiple injuries on the team, Cochran said there are some positives this season. With a new volunteer coach and a new trainer, Cochran said there is new energy on the team this year. He said the abundance of injuries has also allowed new players to hit the field.
“The depth’s been good from the standpoint of the next guy is giving everything he can and the guys on the field are just as patient as they can be and trusting that they can do the job,” Cochran said. “I’ve been really pleased with the effort that has come from the bench because it’s not easy.”
The men’s team has lost four starters because of injuries this season, but Clayton said the bench has had a large impact on confidence and keeping spirits up.
“Thankfully we’ve had good depth in the squad and people have been really having to step up and do the best they can,” Clayton said. “I think the team has done a great job of adapting to these injuries and working around them and still going strong.”
Clayton said the team has been taking the season game by game and week by week, changing and adapting to make the ’Dogs successful.
The women also recently lost to the Lewis Flyers 0-2, but beat the Illinois-Springfield Prairie Stars 2-0. The team continued that winning streak against the Drury Panthers 2-1 and swept the Southwest Baptist Bearcats 4-0.
Women’s soccer head coach Mike Cannon said the past few games for the women have gone well with the Bulldogs playing better and getting results.
“We just kind of got through a tough stretch and seem to be hitting a little more of where we want to be as far as how we’re playing,” Cannon said.
Cannon previously said the team wasn’t cohesive and the practice wasn’t showing in games earlier in the season, but now the team has moved some players around and has since been playing better as a group and scoring more goals.
Cannon said passing and maintaining possession of the ball has gotten significantly better throughout the season. With the Bulldogs playing less defense and seeming to be on the same page out on the field, there are more scoring opportunities and they have found success.
The .500 win percentage isn’t the best the team has ever had, but Cannon said this season has been more challenging. The Bulldogs still have a shot at the conference tournament and moving on, but Cannon said the team needs to win a majority of the remaining games to give itself a fighting chance in the tournament.
“I’d much prefer us to be in this situation where things didn’t start as great but now we’re kind of heading in the right direction as opposed to the seasons where you start great and it just kind of falls off the table,” Cannon said. “The girls were excited before, but I think they’re really excited now.”
The women are focusing on team dynamics and maintaining winning momentum, Cannon said, but there is still some work to do before the conference tournaments. He said right now, the Bulldogs are just trying to break into the tournament to prolong the season.
The women’s soccer team will compete against Missouri University of Science and Technology at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18. The men’s soccer team will also face off against the Miners at 7:30 p.m. the same day.