The ORU women’s soccer team opens the 2016 season tonight at home against the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Golden Eagles capped off their preseason with an intra-squad championship last Saturday.
After a disappointing 2014, the team made huge strides last season, improving by six wins, going 10-8-3 overall and finishing second in conference in 2015. The team made a dramatic change last summer after what Head
Coach Roger Bush called “a change in culture” when the juniors and seniors took it upon themselves to help turn not only the previous season, but the program around.
Bush believes the momentum built off of last season could mean even better times are on the horizon for his program, not only this season, but in the seasons to come.
“That’s a credit to last year’s seniors and this year’s seniors,” said Bush. “When you’re developing or building something, if you’ve done a good job, then it’s going to keep getting better. That’s where we think we’re at in terms of our culture and expectations.”
Both players and coaches are ready to begin the season after a successful summer training camp and preseason. Senior defender Maria Stordahl is confident about the current makeup of her team heading into tonight’s match.
“We’ve been playing well in practice and we’ve been really focused, which is good,” said Stordahl. “We have a lot of young players coming in; freshmen are stepping up. I think we’re ready.”
Stordahl, who scored a pair of goals during Saturday’s intra-squad championship match, is one of nine returning seniors looking to compete for a conference championship this season.
Also returning for the Golden Eagles is senior forward Brittney Lawrence. Lawrence led the team with 10 goals and 22 points last season. The team will have 11 newcomers
providing a mix of veteran presence with youth and versatility.
“We’re going to need good play from our midfielders this year. We’ve got some ‘synergy’ issues to sort out with our forwards and find out what combinations are going to work the
best together,” said Bush. “We have the players to do it. That’s something that the coaching staff has to figure out, but it’s something that will develop throughout the season as well.”
The match is set to begin at 7:00 p.m. at Case Soccer Complex.