In less than a week, Missouri soccer will kick off a new season and a new era. And if preseason performances are anything to go off of, we’re in for a big year.
After Bryan Blitz, the team’s first and only coach, retired at the end of last season, Stefanie Golan was brought in to take the helm. Golan was previously head coach at Minnesota, where she won three Big Ten titles. Before that, she coach Army to the program’s second-ever NCAA Tournament appearance
Now, Golan will try to right the ship for a Missouri soccer team that hasn’t made an NCAA Tournament since 2016. And she has started out right.
The Tigers played their first preseason game on Tuesday, beating Sam Houston State, 4-1. They followed that up with a win on Friday over #17 Oklahoma State, 1-0.
Friday’s goal came from an unlikely source, freshman midfielder Leah Selm.
Selm graduated from Parkway West last spring, after guiding the Longhorns to the Missouri State Quarterfinals before falling to eventual Class 3 champions Ft Zumwalt South.
It will be interesting to see how Golan lines up her squad this season. The Tigers have struggled to fill the hole left by Chicago Red Stars forward Sarah Leubbert after her graduation in 2019. Julissa Cisneros has done her best, but she needs help up front.
Golan may call on experienced forwards like Jadyn Easly or Skye Kingsley, or she could turn to young prospects like Kyra Reeves or Jenna Bartels.
The back line has pretty much stayed in tact, with Lyman, McIntryre, and Adesanmi all returning. The Tigers have also added German standout Milena Fischer.
Fischer has experience at center back in the 2. Frauen Bundesliga, the German second tier, and on the German U19 national team.
Golan has plenty to choose from in midfield, leading to more questions. Will she go with experience, Trujillo, Nurnberger and Beldner, or give new names like Leah Selm or Jenna McCormick the nod?
The team also played goalkeeper by committee last season. With four to choose from, and McKenna Sheehan and Isabella Alessio neck-and-neck in terms of quality, we may see multiple faces in net.
Missouri only lost twice during the regular season last year, though they didn’t play nearly as many games as usual. The Tigers drew two games, which kept them from a higher seed in the SEC Tournament.
This season, the Tigers face a full gauntlet of talented squads including Illinois, Notre Dame and Miami before beginning conference play. In the SEC, the Tigers will have to go up against powerhouses like Vanderbilt and Texas A&M.
Luckily, more Tiger fans will be able to experience Missouri soccer than ever before, as admission to Walton Stadium will be free throughout the season.
The Golan era is just beginning, and it will be exciting to see where the squad goes from here.