After having its most successful season in program history in 2014, the Illinois State women’s soccer team fell back to earth in 2015.
The team went through many ups and downs last season, ending with a 6-10-2 overall record. It was a 10-win drop-off compared to the year before when they won a program record 16 games, including a 3-2 victory against South Florida in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
ISU head coach Eric Golz will begin his second season in charge of the Redbirds. After dealing with high expectations his first year, he thinks things are starting to look up for him and his players as they continue to train over the course of the summer.
“I think that we are in a much better place heading into the fall of 2016 compared to the fall of 2015 both of in terms of the talent we have on our team and the culture,” Golz said.
“They played quite well and trained quite well through the spring,” Golz said. “So we are excited to see how that translates in the fall.”
There will also be multiple additions to the squad, as nine players have signed their letters of intent to join the team. That makes this year’s class the largest since 2008. The class includes four forwards, three midfielders, one defensive back and one goalkeeper. Golz is anticipating what each of these new members will bring to the table for next year.
“We are excited to see contributions from them,” Golz said. “I think at the end of the day they have to come in and perform so we will see who comes in prepared and performs and go from there.”
Despite outshooting their opponents 113-80 in the first half last season, ISU was still outscored 14-7. Golz believes his players’ additional experience will translate to more scoring this season.
“We were just a little bit inefficient in terms of finishing our own opportunities,” Golz said. “We had a lot of young players playing last year so I think they needed to get some experience and learn some of those lessons and they have done a really good job of learning from the 2015 season.”
The Redbirds’ schedule includes many high-profile non-conference teams such as Wisconsin, Illinois, Marquette and Northwestern.
ISU will also host the 2016 Missouri Valley Conference Women’s Soccer Tournament Nov. 4-6 at Adelaide Street Field.
“I think we have the talent to be able to compete with the best teams in the conference,” Golz said. “We expect to be towards the top of our conference and expect to be competing for championships.”
ISU begins its pre-season on Aug. 13 when it faces Milwaukee in Wisconsin for an exhibition match.
The Redbirds begin the regular season when they host Big Ten opponent Wisconsin on Aug. 19 at Adelaide Street Field.