Sept. 3, 2010
Bearcats Look to Have Another Strong Season
By David Boyce
Christmas arrives tonight for the Northwest Missouri State women’s soccer team. Figuring out the gift is easy.
The Bearcats open their season 7 p.m. at Newman in Wichita, Kan. They are anxious to find out what kind of team they will have for the 2010 season.
“Our coach has been saying it is like waiting for Christmas to happen,” said junior defender Jacque Dedovesh. “Every day at practice we have a countdown like four days until Christmas. That’s exactly what it is, especially coming off a season like last year.
“It’s the best game of the year because anything can happen and it sets the tone for the rest of the year.”
Northwest is coming off a record-breaking season in which they won a program-high 11 games in going 11-8-1 overall and 7-8-1 in the MIAA.
The Bearcats want to do better. It won’t be easy. The team lost six starters, including leading goal scorer Andrea Tritz, who accounted for seven goals.
But coach Tracy Hoza didn’t build the program for one good season and then fall back. She has new leaders ready to step into new roles.
One is senior midfielder Andrea Freeman who is entering her second season as a captain. Dedovesh is the other captain on the team.
“Andrea Freeman and our seniors worked really hard this summer and that continued during preseason as well,” Hoza said. “The record wins made them want to do more and do better.”
The season ended on a positive note. The Bearcats won their final home game of the year over Missouri Southern giving them their 11th victory.
The victory just provided more fuel for the returners and newcomers for this season.
“Obviously, when you do well you want to do better,” Hoza said.
Freeman is one of the returners that want to help the Bearcats continue its upward climb in the MIAA. She understands her role as a leader is even more vital this season to help the four freshmen adjust to college soccer and underclassmen who saw sparse playing time a year ago.
“We lost a lot of great players but that gives other players an opportunity to step up and have a chance to show what they got,” Freeman said. “Leadership is an important factor. I think our team has some great leaders.”
Hoza already knows she has two good leaders in Freeman and Dedovesh and they play the perfect spots to keep the team organized on the entire field. Freeman patrols the middle and Dedovesh will organize the back defense.
“They are both the spine of the team,” Hoza said.
Hoza is only hours away from seeing exactly what she has for this season. The Bearcats want to start off on a winning note.
Whatever happens over the next three days is not going to make or break the season.
Like any team, Northwest wants to start on a winning note. The Bearcats’ home opener is 1 p.m. Sunday at Bearcat Pitch against Northeastern State (Okla.).
A year ago Northwest won its first four games, including a 1-0 victory against Newman and a 2-0 triumph over Northeastern State.
“We want to adapt a good feel of playing on the road,” Hoza said. “Obviously, we want them to be successful. You want to see what areas we need to work on and to get newcomers experience against collegiate athletes.
“As a group we want to defend with pride and attack with passion. Now we want to see can we do it. I think the players are well up for that and they are well up for carrying on what many of the juniors and seniors did last year.”
Obviously, the players are ready for this weekend.
“I think we can do very well in non-conference,” Freeman said. “It will give us a chance to be out there and play and see how we are before conference season starts.
“We are excited to play in front of our home crowd and show Maryville and whoever comes that we’ve been working hard and can produce on the field.”
Freeman, Dedovesh and all the returners learned from last year’s seniors what it takes to be successful.
“If our team doesn’t get along we won’t work well on the field,” Dedovesh said. “We have to get along and understand each others feelings and thoughts to perform well on the field.
“I feel like this preseason we have great chemistry without the six seniors and I think even though it was a big change to lose those seniors, we’ve done really well meshing.”
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