Tigers nab exhibition win
By AUSTIN COLBERT
By AUSTIN COLBERT
Fort Hays State University women's soccer coach Craig Shaw was underwhelmed by what he saw in the first half by his Tigers against Kansas Wesleyan University on Saturday in their second exhibition game of the season.
He would be OK repeating their two-goal, second-half performance, however, which ended in a 2-0 win for the Tigers at the FHSU Soccer Stadium.
"Not happy about the first half, at all. It's very difficult to play against the wind -- about 25 mile per hour wind -- but we should have done better," Shaw said. "Definitely not happy with the first half, but second half we had more intensity. Then we started to pass the ball around a little bit better, which we could be really good at this season."
The Tigers received a goal apiece from senior forwards Hailey Davey and Jordan Shaw, the goals coming at the 34:16 and 16:08 marks of the second half, respectively.
Davey also scored two goals in the team's exhibition opener at Hastings (Neb.) College last Sunday, a 4-4 draw.
"That was a tie, this was a win, so in that regard this game was better. But I think we played with more intensity in the first game," Davey said. "We've looked really strong the last two games, more so the second half of this game. But I've been fortunate. I've got three goals and an assist. I think it will be a fun season for us. I'm excited."
The Tigers are looking to rebound from a disappointing 7-8-3 campaign in 2013. FHSU went 6-11-1 in its inaugural season in 2011 before a 14-7-1 season in 2012, which resulted in a trip to the Division II national tournament after winning the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament.
Key to getting back to the national tournament will be replacing Amanda Talbott, who tied for the team lead with four goals and two assists as a senior last year. FHSU does return junior defender Dani Harris, who matched Talbott in goals and assists as a sophomore.
Harris has been rehabbing from a deep cut on her hand and hasn't played in either exhibition game, although Shaw said she should be cleared for action for the team's regular-season opener Sept. 5 at Southwest Minnesota State.
"Very optimistic. It feels more like my sophomore year, which is when we won the conference tourney and went to nationals," Davey said. "We have five really great seniors that are helping lead the team. Some good juniors -- all of our captains are juniors. And sophomores are coming back ready to have a really good season... I think we will be really good out there."
Davey, who tied for third on the team with eight points last season (two goals, four assists), joins Shaw, defenders Laura Regnier and Jamie Babyak, and midfielder Margaret Meier as the team's seniors.
Juniors Kylee Loneker, Jordan Hester, Gabrielle Makatura, Cenayda Guzman, Mallory Diederich, and sophomore Hannah Jurgens are all veteran returners from a season ago. Loneker and Jurgens each tied with Davey for third on the team with eight points last year.
The Tigers did lose both of its goalkeepers from a season ago in Nicole Barnaba and Kelsey Grey, and will look to find a replacement starter out of the trio of junior transfer Kimi Kaniaupio, true freshman Abbie Flax, and redshirt freshman Kristen Thompson.
The Tigers were picked to finish seventh in the 12-team MIAA this season after going 3-5-3 in the conference last year. Central Missouri, the 2013 regular-season MIAA champion, was picked to repeat.
"We are going to have high expectations. We've got a great senior group. We've got a great junior class," Shaw said. "Trying to make that national tournament is what we want to do, and I think we got the group of girls that can do it, we just have a lot of freshmen coming in. We got to gain that experience quickly. I think the returners are doing a good job of helping them."
The Tigers will play one final exhibition game at 2 p.m. Saturday against Northwestern Oklahoma State at the FHSU Soccer Stadium before their Sept. 5 opener.