by Will Conerly
QU 2019 Women’s Soccer Preview
Head Coach Mark Hager starts his second season with the goal to get the Hawks back to the NCAA tournament.
Experience and Depth
Senior midfielders Alex Severino and Mo Rooney will serve as captains this fall as they each return for their 4th season as starters. Rooney and Severino each earned All-GLVC Third Team Honors a year ago and will likely be preseason favorites for all-conference recognition again.
Rooney has played in 57 games for QU over the course of her career, while Severino has appeared in and started all 46 games in her career as a Hawk.
Ten other Hawks appeared in at least 17 of 18 games last year. If nothing else, the Hawks should look like a well seasoned squad with plenty of experienced players who can provide leadership and experience.
No doubt one of the most intriguing games on the QU Lady Hawks schedule will be Friday, November 1st when GLVC-newcomer, Lindenwood, visits Quincy. This will mark the first occasion when former Quincy Head Coach, Dave Musso, returns to coach at Jack MacKenzie Field, as he spent 12 seasons at the helm for the Hawks.
Musso helped lead the Hawks to a 17-4-1 record in 2017, which was one of the best seasons in school history. Lindenwood went 7-10-2 under the direction of Musso in his first season last year.
The Hawks will begin their season Friday, August 16th against Western Illinois University as they make a short trek to Macomb, Illinois.
The Hawks’ bye falls on the first weekend of conference play again, so the GLVC opener will take place Sunday, September 15 at Truman State University. The Bulldogs were the number one seed in the GLVC tournament last season.
The Hawks will conclude GLVC play at home against the University of Missouri-Saint Louis on Sunday, November 3rd. The GLVC post season conference tournament will begin a week later on Sunday November 10th. The GLVC tournament final-four will be in Indianapolis once again.
Last season, Emilee Autry was a mainstay between the pipes as a freshman. She racked up nine shutouts and her stingy goalkeeping allowed just 16 goals, good for second in the GLVC. Expect to see her in action once again this season.
Also expect to see incoming freshmen and goalkeeper Erika Anstine from Ballwin, Missouri. Anstine is a highly touted recruit who played high school ball at Parkway West and should compete with Autry for playing time.
The top goaltender in the GLVC, Zoe Broshu will return to McKendree for her senior season. Last season, she had 10 shutouts and only allowed 10 goals posting a GLVC-best 0.51 goals against average.
The Hawks return their leading scorer Lauren Crane, who had seven goals and four assists in her first year with the Hawks. Crane’s 18 points were 4th in the conference.
There is no question the Hawks need counterparts to score with Crane, especially with the loss of seniors Abby Pulliam and Cassidy Foley who each had six goals apiece. The duo accounted for 41% of the team’s goals.
Expect to see Crane’s goal total multiply next fall, and challenge to be tops in the GLVC. Crane led the team last season in goals, so that may seem like an obvious take, but there’s more to the story.
Crane only played the final six games (5 regular season and 1 playoff game) at forward because senior Cassidy Foley suffered a season-ending ACL injury in a 1-0 loss to McKendree.
After Foley went down worries of scoring production arose, but Crane filled that void.
The Hawks ended the 2018 regular season on a high note as they went 4-0-1 in the final five games while exploding for 15 goals during that span.
That run allowed QU to be a top four seed in the GLVC tournament and earned them a first round home game. The Hawks eventually had a first-round exit, but the final stretch of GLVC play may have prepared the Hawks for next season.
They found their identity with Lauren Crane scoring six goals and garnering two assisting during that surge. She earned GLVC offensive player of the week honors for that run and was later named GLVC Co-Freshman of the year with Rockhurst’s McKenna Leetch.
Crane had previously played multiple roles for head coach Marc Hager, but she seemed to find her niche.
The question is who else will find the back of the net?
Maddie Bauer showed promise as she scored four goals, and earned 2nd-team GLVC honors. But other than Bauer, the Hawks may have some questions: Baylee Smith, Alex Severino, Mo Rooney, Riley Hayes, Grace Hilbing, and Mary Maloney are the only other players who scored, and they each notched just one a piece.
The Hawks ability to connect and create scoring opportunities in the midfield area may be the most exciting thing to look forward to next fall.
This experienced, deep, and upperclassmen-filled unit should be the anchor for the Hawks. They can provide ease for new members of the backline, and will be tasked to serve quality balls to a slew of new forwards up top.
The roster next fall will return seven starters. Key role players from a season ago may have more minutes in 2019.
The Hawks graduated four senior starters in Abby Pulliam, Cassidy Foley, Allison Diekman, and Gabby Orlando. This gives the opportunity for two news faces up top and in the back line to emerge. There will likely be more minutes for returners such as Riley Hayes, Grace Hilbing, and Emma Vaughn.
Paige Anderson will likely step on the scene for the Hawks in the back line after being sidelined last season with a torn ACL. Likely to join her will be returning center back Sydney Gorman.
One big question for Coach Hager will be who plays at the outside back positions.
Will Hager opt to change a formation to only have three in the back? Will he move a familiar midfield face, such as Mary Maloney to a wing-back? Could he move someone else back to fill the gap? Could incoming freshman Lexi Porsha or Hannah Wernike earn starting spots?
We’ll have a better idea of those answers once the team begins camp in the fall.
An interesting anecdote on the Hawk roster is Mo Rooney. She played her freshman and sophomore campaigns in the midfield but switched to center back last season. This move was necessary because the Hawks were coming off a season where they graduated three all-conference defenders.
For the Hawks, it may be comforting to know that she has the ability to play multiple positions, but you’ll likely see the senior captain head back to the middle.