Lions soccer kicks off MIAA play hosting Bronchos & RiverHawks

Joplin, Mo. - Fresh off their first victory of the year at East Central (Okla.) on Sunday, the Missouri Southern Lions soccer team kicks off MIAA action this weekend hosting a pair of matches at Hal Bodon Field against Central Oklahoma on Friday at 6 p.m. and Northeastern State on Sunday at 1 p.m.

After falling in a pair of matches at home to start the year, the Lions (1-3) rebounded last weekend getting their first win of the year Sunday defeating the Lady Tigers 2-0 thanks to goals from senior forward Tiffany Laughlin and junior forward Katelyn Roberson to register a shutout at East Central as goalkeepers Abby Risner and Beth Hammons combined to make five saves in net to preserve the shutout. The Lions would fire off 28 shots on the day, including nine on goal, as 12 different Lions would register a shot on the afternoon. The Lions would fall 1-0 to Southern Nazarene on Friday as the Crimson Storm would score a goal with less than a minute remaining until halftime. Roberson leads the Lions with five points on the year with a pair of goals and an assist while sophomore forward Karley Thomas has three assists on the year.

About Central Oklahoma: The Bronchos enter Friday evening's match with a 2-3 overall record coming off a 1-0 victory last Sunday at home over Texas Woman's University. After starting the year ranked No. 23 in the NSCAA Coaches poll, UCO won their opener over Oklahoma Christian College 6-0 before dropping their next three matches to fall out of the poll dropping three one-goal contests at William Jewel and Upper Iowa and against Dallas Baptist. The Bronchos have been led in scoring on the year by junior forwards Kate Foran and Sarah Purcell who each have two goals and an assist on the year. Thirteen of the 18 Bronchos who have played in three or more games have registered at least one point on the year. UCO has registered a .138 shooting percentage with a .525 shot-on-goal percentage. Junior goalkeeper Brandi Bartley has played the majority in of the time in net making 16 saves on the year with a .696 save percentage and 1.86 GAA.

Now in his 16th year at Central Oklahoma, head coach Mike Cook led the Bronchos to a second place regular season finish in their inaugural year in the MIAA last fall as UCO would reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Minnesota-Mankato. UCO holds a 5-0 series lead over the Lions as the two teams faced off twice last year in Edmond, Okla. as the Lions would fall 1-0 in the regular season and 4-0 in the first round of the MIAA Tournament.

About Northeastern State: The RiverHawks enter Sunday's matchup with a perfect 5-0 record coming off a 4-0 shutout over Northwestern Oklahoma State at home on Thursday before coming to Joplin to kick off MIAA play against the Lions. In addition to NSU's win over the Rangers, the RiverHawks have secured wins in overtime over Augustana (S.D.) and McMurray University (Tex.) and blanked Harding and East Central on the road. NSU is led in scoring by senior forward Jennifer Clark who has a MIAA-leading 14 points (6G, 2A) on the year. Outscoring their opponents 14-2, the RiverHawks have outshot their opponents 146-37 while posting a .486 shot-on-goal percentage on the year. Freshman goalkeeper Jordan Woodruff has been sensational in net for the RiverHawks posting a pair of shutouts while only allowing two goals in more than 455 minutes of game time while posting a .889 save percentage.

Led by fourth-year head coach Chase Wooten, the RiverHawks reached the MIAA Tournament semifinals in their inaugural year in the MIAA last year before falling to Central Missouri. NSU leads the overall series with the Lions 6-1 taking last year's matchup 4-2 in Tahlequah. Southern's lone victory came at home in 2007 as the Lions downed the RiverHawks 5-0.