Conference bound - Soccer, volleyball teams open OVC play

Friday, September 24, 2004

After seeing her team perform well during what she considered to be seven tough non-league games, Southeast Missouri State University women's soccer coach Heather Nelson believes the Otahkians are ready to begin Ohio Valley Conference play.

"I think so," Nelson said. "I'm very excited about our start. I think we did better than I expected."

The Otahkians (5-2) have their first two OVC games on the road, starting at 3 p.m. today against Tennessee Tech (4-2-1). Sunday at 2 p.m., Southeast faces Austin Peay (5-2-1).

"We're looking forward to getting the conference season started," Nelson said.

Nelson is particularly pleased with Southeast's offense. After averaging a little more than one goal per game last season, the Otahkians are averaging nearly two goals per game so far this year as they have found the net 13 times.

"We seem to be getting a lot of offense," Nelson said. "And we're winning close games, which is a good sign."

Freshman Emily Newsham leads the Otahkians with four goals. Another freshman, Alaina Lacopo, is first in assists with five.

All five of Southeast's heralded freshmen -- the others are Megan Matter, Margie Schaeffler and Lauren Costello -- have been key contributors, just as Nelson expected.

"We've had a number of freshmen step up," Nelson said. "I thought they would be good, but they have actually done better than I thought. From the preseason on, they have fit right in."

Diana Poovey, Lisa Schweppe, Molli Beard and Megan Hejlek all have two goals. Marla Gianino has four assists, followed by Schweppe with three and Michelle Frossard with two.

Nelson expects two tough road games to begin OVC play.

"Tech usually has a very strong team and Austin Peay has really improved," she said.

Austin Peay, a third-year program coached by former Southeast assistant Kelley Poole, has already matched its win total from its first two seasons of play combined. The Govs went 0-13-3 in 2002 and 5-13-1 last year.

Volleyball begins OVC play

Southeast's volleyball team, which has struggled to a 1-9 start, also plays its first conference match on the road, facing Austin Peay (3-8) at 7 p.m. tonight. Saturday at 2 p.m., the Otahkians visit Tennessee Tech (4-6).

"We had some losses I probably thought we shouldn't have, but we're so young," Southeast coach Cindy Gannon said. "This is a talented group and I'm trying my best not to let them get discouraged.

"I have no doubt we can compete in the OVC, but it's important that we have some success early to build some confidence. We really need to start out 2-0."

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