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Schlick, Luehmann off to positive start with Redhawks
It didn't take long for freshmen Bobbi Jo Schlick and Courtney Luehmann to make an impression on Southeast Missouri State women's soccer coach Heather Nelson.
The local youngsters were in the starting lineup Friday night as the Redhawks opened their two-game exhibition schedule with a 2-1 home loss to Saint Louis University.
"It was exciting," said Schlick, a Jackson High School graduate, as Notre Dame Regional High School product Luehmann nodded in agreement following the game at Houck Stadium.
Nelson said she had high hopes for Schlick and Luehmann when they signed with Southeast. But they have adapted to Division I college soccer quicker than the coach envisioned.
"I knew they were both technical players. I didn't know how quick they'd adjust to the speed of play and the physical play," Nelson said. "They've both done a great job and I'm very happy for them.
"They couldn't be off to a better start."
Schlick and Luehmann both said they had dreams of playing Division I soccer. That it is happening at their local university makes it that much more exciting.
"I had a couple of other offers, but I liked SEMO the best," said Schlick, a two-time all-state forward at Jackson who scored 28 goals during her senior season. "I like the style of play and I love the coaches."
Luehmann, a midfielder who tallied 14 goals over the past two seasons at Notre Dame, said she also had other college opportunities.
"But I liked how it [Southeast] was close to home, I love the coaches and all the girls are great," she said.
As an added bonus, Schlick and Luehmann get to play together at Southeast after being teammates on a local club team.
"We've played on the same [club] team since we were about 10," Luehmann said. "It was our own decisions [where to attend college], but we're excited we get to play together again."
Schlick and Luehmann both quickly pointed to the speed of play when asked the biggest difference between high school and college soccer.
"If you don't play quick, you'll get the ball taken from you," Schlick said.
The locals hope to help perennial Ohio Valley Conference power Southeast rebound from a rare down season as the 2008 Redhawks went 2-9-3 overall and finished last in the OVC.
"We hope to make a difference," Luehmann said.
Nelson expects quite a few youngsters besides Schlick and Luehmann to make a difference.
"A lot of freshmen did well tonight," said Nelson, whose squad started six freshmen Friday.
Southeast's 19-player roster features 10 freshmen and four sophomores, along with just two seniors and three juniors.
Senior Stephanie Kulavic scored Southeast's only goal Friday, with seven minutes remaining, after SLU led 2-0.
The Billikens, a traditionally strong team, controlled play with a 15-2 edge in shots and a 9-0 advantage in corner kicks. Ashley Hayes scored both of SLU's goals.
But Nelson saw enough positive signs to be encouraged.
"I'm excited," Nelson said. "This team has a great attitude and wants to get better."
Southeast plays its final exhibition Sunday when Division II Missouri-St. Louis comes to town for a 6 p.m. start.
The Redhawks open the regular season Aug. 21 at home against Indiana State.