Southern soccer heads west to face Fort Hays & Neb.-Kearney

Joplin, Mo. – After earning four points on the opening weekend of MIAA play, the Missouri Southern Lions soccer team hits the road this weekend for a pair of matches in Kansas and Nebraska. The Lions will first head to Hays, Kan. to take on Fort Hays State on Friday at 7 p.m. at the FHSU Soccer Stadium and then travel to Kearney, Neb. to face the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers on Sunday at 1 p.m. from Ron & Carol Cope Stadium at Foster Field.

After playing a scoreless draw against Central Oklahoma on Friday evening, the Lions blanked previously unbeaten Northeastern State 2-0 Sunday afternoon. The Lions defense would be especially tough against the Bronchos and RiverHawks as goalkeepers Abby Risner and Beth Hammons faced 41 shots on the weekend, including 20 on goal, without allowing a goal. Senior defender Dana Wilhelm would be named MIAA Defensive Player of the Week for her efforts as she led a strong defensive effort for the Lions.

In addition to her great defense, Wilhelm would also secure the game winning goal against Northeastern State as she found the back of the net in the 48th minute as sophomore forward Karley Thomas would pick up her fourth assist of the year. Sophomore defender Kimmy Hulse would notch her first career goal at Southern on a free kick in the 67th minute to give Southern a 2-0 victory. 

About Fort Hays State: The Tigers enter Friday's matchup with a 3-5 overall record, 0-2 in the MIAA coming off a 2-1 win at home on Tuesday over NAIA member Bethany College (Kan.). The Tigers dropped their first two MIAA games on the road last weekend falling 1-0 to 17th-ranked Central Missouri and 2-1 to Southwest Baptist. Junior forward Hailey Davey and freshman forward Sabrina Van Horn lead the Tigers in scoring with five points as each has notched a pair of goals and an assist so far this season. Junior goalkeeper Nicole Barnaba leads the Tigers in net with a .750 save percentage making 21 saves while posting a 1.24 GAA on the year.

Now in his third year at Fort Hays, head coach Craig Shaw led the Tigers to the MIAA Tournament Championships as the sixth seed last fall as FHSU would reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. The Lions hold a 2-0 series lead over Fort Hays as Southern picked up their first win of the season last fall defeating the Tigers 2-1 at home. Southern also defeated the Fort Hays 2-1 in overtime at home in 2011.

About Nebraska-Kearney: The Lopers enter Sunday's matchup with a 3-4 overall record, 0-2 in the MIAA coming off a 1-0 victory over NAIA member Hasting College (Neb.) at home on Wednesday. Nebraska-Kearney dropped their first two MIAA games on the road last weekend falling 2-1 at Southwest Baptist and 5-1 at 17th-ranked Central Missouri. The Lopers are led in scoring by sophomore midfielder Montanna Hosterman who has two goals and two assists on the season. Senior forward Becka Talcott has a pair of goals, including the Lopes' lone goal over Hastings. Kearney is led in goal by sophomore goalkeeper Katelin Mielke who has played in all seven games allowing only seven goals while making 17 saves on the year.

Led by second-year head coach John Maessner, the Lopers went 9-7-2, 4-6-2 last year in their first season in the MIAA where they tied with Southwest Baptist for eighth place in the conference. The Lions lead the overall series with Nebraska-Kearney 1-0 shutting out the Lopers 3-0 at home last fall in the two schools only meeting.