Women’s soccer begins season with high hopes

Bradley Piros , Sports Editor

The Western Illinois University women’s soccer team kicked off their fall slate with two pre-season shutout wins last week. On Wednesday, they took on the Southeastern Community College Blackhawks and defeated them 5-0. Last Friday, the Quincy University Hawks came to Macomb where they were held scoreless in a 2-0 win for the Leathernecks.

Western will play 18 games this season with high hopes that they can make an appearance in the Summit League Tournament. They’ll play 10 of those games at John Mackenzie Field here in Macomb with a five-game homestead entering October.

The Leathernecks will be looking to improve upon their 3-14-1 record from last season with wins coming against Northern Illinois University (1-0), Chicago State University (5-3) and the University of Northern Iowa (1-0).

Western’s season opener will be this Friday against the Missouri State University Bears. The two met in last year’s season opener where the Purple and Gold fell 1-0 on the road. This time around, the Leathernecks host the Bears and plan on flipping the script from one year ago.

After that, the team will go on the road for two games against the Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis Jaguars and the University of Missouri – Kansas City Kangaroos. They’ll return home for two games against the University of Illinois – Chicago Flames and the Northern Illinois University Huskies.

The following week, the Leathernecks go back on the road for two of their toughest opponents: the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Panthers and the Illinois State University Redbirds. Last season Western fell to UWM 3-1 at home and 4-1 to ISU on the road.

After that tough trip they will open up a five-game home stand when the Drake University Bulldogs come to town. Then they take on two opponents that they beat last year in NIU and CSU. Those should be wins this season, but only time will tell.

From there on out, it will be all Summit League play. They play the University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks who they lost to last year 2-1 on the road in their final game of the season. Western will close out their home stand against the University of Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons.

The Leathernecks will take on the Denver University Pioneers and the North Dakota University Fighting Hawks. Last season Western was shutout by both teams; 3-0 by DU and 5-0 by NDU. It will be an uphill climb to try and hang with these teams.

Western will go back on the road against South Dakota State University and North Dakota State University and then return home one week later to play their final home game where they take on the Oral Roberts University Golden Eagles. Their final regular season game of the year will be on the road at South Dakota University.

With more home games than away, it’s safe to say that this season’s schedule favors the Leathernecks. Last season the team lost four seniors; Lily Butler, Madeline Edwards, Ashley Kuhlmann and Emma Keckeisen. Butler and Kuhlmann were regular starters in defense and midfield, respectively. To make up for it, director of soccer Eric Johnson recruited five new freshmen, two of them being goalkeepers.

The team will look very similar to last year’s, which means they have chemistry. That’s not all they have, though. Each player has the individual skill to make things happen in the game and they’ve looked promising so far. We’ll just have to wait and see how the season goes.

The Leathernecks will kick off their season at home this Friday, August 23 against MSU. The game starts at 5 p.m