New head coaches Ryan and Roger Bush have taken control of the men’s and women’s soccer programs respectively.
Changes at the helm have ushered in more than new faces on the sideline; they have changed expectations.
Last year, the men placed seventh in the Summit League and the women placed third in the Southland Conference.
Preseason polls had both teams finishing in the same spots. The men’s team looked strong through three preseason games but have since struggled in their regular season games.
After a 3-1 exhibition loss to SMU, the men defeated John Brown University in overtime 1-0, and topped nationally ranked Division II team, Northeastern State University, 4-1 during their next two exhibition games.
Despite their preseason successes, their first two regular season games both resulted in losses.
The first game of the year was on the road versus number 15 St. Louis. The Golden Eagles went into halftime with a 1-0 lead but St. Louis was able to hit a game-winning goal in the 83rd minute.
Their next game was a heartbreaking loss at home against Houston Baptist. The game went to double-overtime and ended with HBU scoring on a deflection to give ORU an 0-2 record.
“We have to learn how to win,” Bush said. “They’ve had some losing seasons over the last few years, and they have to learn how to be winners, and that’s a mentality and attitude.”
Bush expects to compete for a Summit League title, and he intends to establish a winning mentality through a concept of identity.
“You know there are some things that have gone on outside of training,” Bush said. “I think the team has lacked an identity and we’re trying to help them find their identity.”
Four ORU players were picked by College Sports for the Pre-season Madness All-Summit League team.
Forward Tom Adams, made the first team along with midfielder Gerardo Salas. Defender Trevor Laffoon and midfielder Craig Rogers also made the preseason picks as second team selections.
The women’s soccer team is setting lofty goals for their Southland Conference season. The women lost their first home game against the Oklahoma State Cowgirls 2-1 in an exhibition match and were outshot 19-7 in the loss.
“I may have mismanaged some minutes with a couple of kids,” said new head coach Roger Bush. “But we’ll learn and we’ll get better as we go. I’m super happy with our kid’s effort. I feel like they played hard, and they had a great attitude throughout the match.”
The women’s team started their regular season strong with a 2-1 win on the road versus Missouri State.
ORU hadn’t defeated Missouri State since 2007, and the game was a milestone win to start Roger Bush’s career at ORU.
The Lady Golden Eagles continued their winning ways with a 3-2 win over the Kansas City Kangaroos Aug. 30.
“Teamwork definitely played a big role in both teams’ improvement this year,” Roger Bush said. “The kids have decided the key is being together. We have 30 kids on the team, not all of them got to participate in the game tonight on the field, but they all participated and had a role whether they were supporting their teammates or helping their teammates or coaching their teammates from the sidelines.”
Both teams are looking poised to compete this year. ORU fans are making a change as well with the “OZONE” showing up to the soccer games and cheering on their Golden Eagles in numbers and garb to match.