Otahk soccer returns from road, will make home debut tonight

Friday, September 12, 2003

Southeast Missouri State University's women's soccer team will finally see its first home action of the regular season today when Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis comes to Houck Stadium for a 7 p.m. game.

The Otahkians will also play at home Sunday, facing Southwest Missouri State in a 2 p.m. contest.

"We're delighted to finally be at home to play," Southeast coach Heather Nelson said. "We've had a really hard four-game road series and it's nice to sleep in our own beds, eat our own food and be on our own schedule."

Southeast is off to a 1-1-2 start after Tuesday's 1-1 tie at Memphis.

The Otahkians' lone win was 2-1 over Ohio in the Illinois Tournament, where they also tied Oakland (Mich.) 0-0. Southeast's lone loss was 2-0 at national power Auburn.

"It would have been nice to have one more win, but I think our record is as good as I'd hoped," Nelson said. "We've played some really tough competition and we've had some good showings. We've gotten better after every game."

Erin Slattery has scored two of the Otahkians' three goals this season, with Valerie Henderson getting the other. Marla Gianino, Heather Reding, Erika Todd and Ashley DeRoy all have assists.

"We're really excited to be at home," Slattery said. "I think we've played well so far, but I think we have room for improvement."

Keeper Amanda Wrzos has played every minute in goal.

IUPUI is 0-3, including a 2-0 loss to Murray State, and has been outscored 11-3 so far. Southwest Missouri is 0-3-2 entering a match tonight against Memphis.

"We get excited to play in front of our fans, hopefully we'll have a big crowd this weekend," midfielder Michelle Frossard said.

Volleyball eyes first win

Southeast's volleyball team is off to an 0-7 start, but coach Cindy Gannon doesn't seem all that concerned as the Otahkians prepare for this weekend's Drake Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa.

Entering the season, Gannon knew it would be difficult for the Otahkians to win many -- if any -- of their first seven matches, most of them played against powerhouse teams.

"I'm disappointed we're 0-7, but I'm not disappointed in the way we're playing," Gannon said. "We're playing some great volleyball teams, some nationally ranked teams. I knew it would be tough.

"When you look at our scores, they're not embarrassing scores, and we're playing great competition."

In the Drake Tournament, the Otahkians play Drake (7-1) today, then Saturday they take on DePaul (2-4) and Louisiana Tech (4-4). Gannon is looking for Southeast to break through this weekend.

"This is a big weekend for us," Gannon said. "They're good teams, but they should be more on our level."

Gannon has long placed her teams up against top-level competition to open the season, so the early record often suffers. But she believes the formula usually pays off.

"I'm glad we're playing this type of schedule. I think it will make us a better team," she said. "We lost some very good players from last year and we have to get a lot of our girls experience."

Several freshmen have played key roles for the Otahkians so far, including Jessie Koeper from Jackson High School and Jessica Wilfong from Park Hills Central High School.

"Those two local girls have been doing a good job for us," Gannon said.

Tennis opener pushed back

Since Southeast's women's tennis team is without a coach, the Otahkians won't open their fall schedule at Bradley Saturday, as had been planned.

Gannon, an assistant athletic director heading up the search committee for a new coach, said things are progressing well as Southeast seeks a replacement for Mike Stevens, who resigned late last month.

"I think we've got some very good applications and hopefully we'll have a new coach soon," Gannon said.

The Otahkians are tentatively scheduled to begin their fall schedule Sept. 26-27 in the Evansville (Ind.) Classic.

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