Story by JASON STRICKLAND (Sports Editor)
The Jennies soccer team has not lost a conference game since they lost to Truman in October of 2009, but it may be tougher this season with four new conference members.“It will be more of a challenge, but I expect us to still do extremely well,” junior Becky Lackey said. “I think we are going to win it.”
Central Oklahoma, Lindenwood, Nebraska-Kearney and Northeastern State join the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association this season.
Central has won the MIAA regular season championship four of the past five years. Lackey and junior Brooke Cooley said their goal is to win the conference again, but they want to make it to the final four as well.
Lackey said they are practicing a 4-3-3 formation, which will add a forward and take away a midfielder to create more offense.
“I think we have really great forwards, and the more time we get to play with it, the better we will get it down and really figure it out,” Lackey said. “I think we will generate a lot of goals.”
Even though the Jens are trying to score more goals, that doesn’t mean they are going to sacrifice their defense.
Head coach Lewis Theobald said seniors Jenna Stones and Audrey Copenhaver, and juniors Cindy Lackey and Kristin Bright will be on the back line for the Jens.
“The whole team needs to defend, but I hope those guys in the back will be rock solid,” Theobald said.
Cooley said the defense should be great like last season.
“We have a lot of fast defenders and a lot of strong defenders,” Cooley said. “I have no concerns with defense.”
Cooley is the returning goalkeeper, but is competing against junior Jessica Grindstaff and freshman Morgan Hartzler.
“We can see already through our training sessions that there is more effort in certain areas to help them get better,” Theobald said.
Cooley started all 21 games last season, recording a goals against average of .47, eight shutouts and 39 saves.
The Jens open the season with a pair of home games. Friday’s game against Winona State starts at 7 p.m. Sunday’s matchup against Minnesota State starts at noon.