MACOMB, Ill. - Western Illinois women's soccer head coach Ted Flogaites, who joined the Leatherneck family in July 2012, looks to restore the program to peak condition and get back to the basics mentally and physically on the pitch this season.
After being picked to finish fourth in The Summit League preseason poll, last year's squad ended the 2011 season with a 7-12 overall record and a 1-8 mark in conference play, losing seven contests by a single goal.
"They lost a lot of games by a close margin," Flogaites said. "That's usually a good sign that a team is knocking on the door to be a good one. We just want to outwork teams, and we want to be the team to beat every year. I think this is a conference we can win in. I think that we have some good players that we haven't yet pushed enough to hit their potential. They just need a little kick."
The team will focus on holding themselves to higher standards and rising to meet the bar every time. They want to improve technically, tactically and outwork teams on the field. This season's vital goals for the squad are to feel better about themselves as players and improve every day, gain confidence in the ability of the team as a whole and to build the framework for a winning culture. Their long term goals are to be the team to beat in The Summit League, raise conference titles and make it to the NCAA College Cup.
When asked what Leatherneck women's soccer fans can expect to see when they attend games, Flogaites said, "A team that won't quit regardless of the score. If we're getting beat four nil we won't quit. We won't accept losing, so if you see us get beat we'll be a lot better the next day. If you see us win, we're going to improve on other things to make ourselves even more difficult to beat the next time. We're going to get better all the time and we're going to try to play the right way, with the ball on the floor and knock it around. We're going to endeavor to play attractive soccer."
REGULAR SEASON OPENER
Who: Western Illinois vs. Northern Iowa
When: Sunday, August 19 at 1 p.m.
Location: Macomb, Ill.
Stadium: John MacKenzie Alumni Field
COVERAGE & LINKS
The Purple & Gold return 23 total student-athletes including eight primary starters in Kellie Julius, Katie Condon, Amber Davis, Miranda Graham, Sarah Blaase, Kristin Kuhar, Jordan Spaciel and keeper Victoria Kappel.
Davis led the team in goals with four and points with eight in 2011, while Graham netted three goals and tallied six points. Condon, who was the only member of the team to start 19 of 19 matches in 2011, and Spaciel had two hit the back of the net apiece.
Kappel orchestrated the back line in the net for the Leathernecks logging 1630:30 total minutes and starting all but one contest. Also back in uniform following a redshirt season at the goalie position is two-year starter (2009 and 2010) and All-Summit League selection, Laura Atkinson.
Six newcomers will don the Leatherneck uniform for the team this fall bringing the team count up to a total of 29. True freshmen Melissa Kuhar, Sofia Chmaruk, Lindsey Kuitse and Skyler Jessop and junior transfers Paula Prpich and Jordan Walgren will look to make their way into the line-up.
Kuhar is a three-time All-State keeper selection who helped St. Joseph's to a State title in 2010, three Regional Championships and four Sectional Championships. She also holds the IHSAA career shutout record with 43 shutouts.
Chmaruk is a multiple sport athlete who earned a total of ten varsity letters at Mid-Prairie including two in soccer. She captained the team as a senior and also spent seven years playing for Iowa ODP and was a two-time Region 2 ODP Team member.
Kuitse helped St. Joseph's to the Indiana State soccer title in 2010, along with fellow newcomer Kuhar, and was a three-time All-State selection and four-year letterwinner.
Jessop was a four-year soccer letterwinner at Grayslake Central and helped the team accomplish three conference championships and earn its first ever Regional championship in 2011.
Prpich, who hails from Barranquilla, Colombia, came to Western following a two year stint at Illinois Central Community College where she earned First Team All-Region honors and captained the team.
Walgren joined the squad after spending two seasons at Iowa Central Community College where she garnered Honorable Mention All-American, Second Team Adidas All-American and First Team All-Region honors in both seasons.
The Fighting Leathernecks will begin the 2012 campaign with one of their five home matches against Northern Iowa. First touch is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday (August 19) at John MacKenzie Alumni Field in Macomb, Ill.
From there the team enters an eight game road swing beginning in Arkansas where Western Illinois will face off against Arkansas Pine Bluff and Arkansas Little Rock. The following weekend marks matches against Jackson State and Mississippi Valley State in Mississippi. After a two match stint in Iowa against NAIA opponents Grand View and St. Ambrose, the Leathernecks head off to take on Missouri State and North Dakota.
Western returns to Macomb for the first Summit League matches of the season against Kansas City on September 28 and South Dakota on September 30.
An October 3 home contest against marks the final non-conference match of the season for the Leathernecks, who then hit the road for games at IUPUI, North Dakota State and South Dakota State.
Omaha will travel to Macomb for the final home contest on October 19 and Western will head to Fort Wayne and Oakland to close out 2012 regular season action.
The Summit League Championships will be hosted by South Dakota State in Brookings, S.D. beginning on November 2. The top four teams in the regular season standings will compete for the conference title.
Western Illinois was chosen to finish tied for sixth in the 2012 Summit League Women's Soccer Preseason Poll, which is voted on by league coaches.
Oakland, defending Summit League Tournament Champions, took the top spot with 61 points, while the regular season champions South Dakota State were ranked second with 59 points. Kansas City was third with 47 and was followed closely by North Dakota State with 46 points. Fort Wayne took fifth with 35 and Western Illinois and IUPUI tied for sixth with 22 points. Rounding out the poll were Omaha and South Dakota with 16 points.
Click HERE to view The Summit League's original release.