Missouri State Bears – 3
Arkansas Little Rock – 0
From the Missouri State Bears –
The Missouri State womenâ€™s soccer team (1-1-0) opened the home regular season schedule with a convincing 3-0 win over visiting UALR (0-3-0) Friday night at Plaster Field. Freshman Tiffany Laughlin scored twice, including the game winner, to give head coach Rob Brewer his 200th career head womenâ€™s soccer coaching victory.
â€œOur offense was much better tonight,â€ said Brewer. â€œWe were able to connect better on our serves and we got a lot of pressure on their defense. We have good athletes up front and it proved to be successful tonight.â€
The Bears got on the board in the 26th minute when Christine Cross hit a streaking Brooke Williams up the left side. Williams dribbled to the edge of the box and found a wide open Laughlin who drilled the ball into the empty net.
Missouri State doubled its lead in the 41st minute when freshman Shelby Stewart centered a pass and Rachel Weimer headed it into an open net.
The Lady Bears were clearly the better squad tonight, seen from the pre-game warmup and throughout the game. The Trojans were a disciplined team led by midfield Jacqueline Paz. The team defended in numbers and had a clear idea of how they were going to advance the ball and it all started with Paz. While the Bears never adjusted tactically to that situation, they were able to beat UALR with their team speed and technical skills. That advantage was most clear when the midfield included Grace Cross and Kathleen Kujawa in the middle, flanked by Katelyn Fredrickson and Brooke Williams. That’s three freshman and a sophomore (Cross) so it might take some time for that lineup to solidify it’s role on the team but that’s my expectation.
The back line is set with senior Jordan Reppell, featured on this years poster, along with Sarah Linsin who moves into the middle to join her. Nia Williams starts her second year on the outside right and junior Christine Cross, Grace’s sister, holds down the left outside position. Jennifer Hamlin is the backup.
Up front, sophomore Rachel Weimer is the key to this team. Her work rate on both offense and defense will help take pressure off of the midfield but it’s her ability to break down defenses with her speed and go-to-goal mentality that creates the greatest opportunity. Freshman Tiffany Laughlin was the primary beneficiary last night, but Jessica Roberts (Mt Grove/SSC) and Shelby Stewart (Parkview/SSC) will get plenty of minutes, allowing Head Coach Brewer the opportunity to go with the hot hand. Stewart also moved to outside midfield briefly which gives the Bears three fleet wing midfielders capable of creating havoc.
This could be another quality season or it will turn into a growing season as the freshman learn the realities of Missouri Valley Conference play. I’m looking forward to seeing it develop.
The Bears host Tennessee-Martin on Sunday at 1:00 pm on Sunday at Plaster Stadium. Tenn-Martin played Arkansas State to a 2-2 double-overtime tie at the ASU Soccer Complex last Sunday. The Red Wolves outshot the Skyhawks 18-16 including taking 12 shots on goal to UTM’s nine.
Additional photos will follow tonight or tomorrow.