Women’s soccer embraces high expectations for 2016 season

Truman State women’s soccer returns for the 2016 season with a lot to prove and a lot to protect. The ‘Dogs enter 2016 ranked 25th in the preseason Division II coaches poll taken by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Truman gained national recognition after its 15-3-5 record last season and claiming the GLVC conference crown and a postseason run in the NCAA national tournament. The ‘Dogs came off their 11th national tournament appearance in 19 years before falling to conference rival Bellarmine 1-0 during the second round.

Head coach Mike Cannon said the preseason rankings are not getting any attention from him or his team. Cannon said the rankings are a good representation of the team’s success from the previous season, but with the season starting over, his team members will set out on a quest to prove themselves once again.

“Of course it’s always nice to be nationally recognized, but rankings only mean something at the end of the season.” Cannon said.

Truman returns 23 athletes to their roster along with the addition of eight newcomers. The ‘Dogs will be led by a large senior class. Cannon said the core of their leadership, the three senior captains — Stephanie Williams, Megan Casserly and Megan Whitehead — will present varied leadership styles, but use those differences to create a cohesive unit.

“We always focus on playing together and communicating well, so that will be a priority.” Cannon said.

After welcoming newcomers to campus, the ‘Dogs began practice and team meetings Sunday with less than a week until their first preseason scrimmage, which will be Saturday against Missouri Valley College.

Williams, Casserly and Whitehead said they agree team unity will be important for the ‘Dogs as they approach the season with high expectations. Junior goalkeeper Katie Mattingly said she recognizes that with high expectations often comes pressure.

“I think our biggest strength on this team this year is our chemistry,” Mattingly said. “Our team is truly like a family. We work well together, and we can have fun doing it.”

This post sponsored by Hardee’s.