The Lindenwood University-Belleville men's soccer team was the American Midwest Conference champion and an NAIA National Tournament qualifier a year ago.
Success brought the Lynx some early notoriety and a No. 19 national ranking in 2015. The team lost its season opener 2-1 to No. 7 ranked Missouri Valley on Aug. 26 before picking up its first win of the season, a 2-1 victory over Ottawa Valley University in Kansas.
Head coach Dan Hogan says getting the team on track was difficult given the crush of a short pre-season and move-in day.
"It's been a busy two weeks and we're finally kind of catching our breath a little bit," said Hogan, who has led the Lynx to a 61-27-11 record since launching the program in 2009. "We had a week off leading up to our Friday game, so we can kind of get on track."
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LU-B returns nine of 11 regulars from last season's team. But graduated seniors Johan Sundberg and Cesar Acosta accounted for a combined 30 goals.
That's a lot to lose, said Hogan.
"We need some guys to step in and it's going to start with the team and the way we play defense," Hogan said. "We're going to need a handful of guys that maybe we didn't rely on for scoring to surge a little bit and score some goals."
Light it up
The soccer Lynx, 1-1, open their home schedule Friday when they host Spring Arbor at 7 p.m. The game will be the showcase for improvements to Lynx Field, at the former site of the Belleville West track. The most notable improvement is lights.
After Friday, however, there is just one more night game scheduled at home, a 7:30 p.m. match against Missouri Baptist on Oct. 7. Late afternoon games in October likely also will see the lights turned on.
"The lights add a new dimension to our program," Hogan said. "First, we were missing class for home, mid-week games. We don't want that. Plus, it was next to impossible to get a crowed to come out at 2 p.m. in the middle of the week."
Player of the Week
Sophomore goalie Nicolas Nicolaci is the first player this season to receive American Midwest Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Nicolaci stopped a total of six shots against No. 7 Missouri Valley and Ottawa University.
The sophomore is coming off a season in which he was named first team All-Conference as well as to the All-Region team.
The women’s soccer team also has started the season at 1-1. The Lady Lynx picked up their first win Saturday, 1-0 at home over Bethel University.
Alex Scata, a senior defender from Murrieta, Calif., netted the game-winner and just the second goal of her career, with little more than 31 minutes left.
Freshman goaltender Luisa Santillan turned about way nine shots in the game. She also came out of the goal box to break up a pair of Bethel scoring chances.
The team will be in Conway, Ark. Saturday for a game at Central Baptist College, then return for a home game against the St. Louis College of Pharmacy Oct. 9 at 7:15 p.m.
Several metro-east players dot the LU-B roster. They include Abigale Boushard, Paige Faulkner, Kelsie Nesbit and Lindsey LeVault, all of Granite City; Casey Wood of Columbia; Stacey Lugge and Tylisa Gutierrez of Belleville; Alexis Brunner of O’Fallon; Madison Bueker of St. Jacob; Brooke Sommer of Marissa; and Kathryn Blomenkamp of Freeburg.
Volleyball starts 1-1
The LU-B women's volleyball team lost its season opener three sets to one last week to Missouri Valley College.
The Lady Lynx rebounded Tuesday with a dramatic win over Lincoln Christian College. They opened an easy two-set lead before finishing the Red Lions off the fifth and decisive set.
The Lady Lynx next travel to Columbia, Mo. to compete in the Hampton Inn Volleyball Classic, which will feature seven teams in the top-25. The Lady Lynx will face No. 4 Viterbo and No. 19 Wayland Baptist on Friday before serving it up against No. 7 Lindsey Wilson and No. 23 Lewis -Clark State on Saturday.
The Lady Lynx benefit from a lot of local talent. The roster includes Jordan Neill of Nashville, Kacey Wahlig of Freeburg, Victoria Johnson of Germantown, Sydnee Williams of O'Fallon, Chelsea Crocker of Breese, and Stephanie Cathcart of Trenton.
New hockey coach
LU-B Athletic Director Scott Spinner announced Monday that Katharine Hannah was hired as the new head coach of the women's hockey team.
A former All-American at the Lindenwood main campus in St. Charles, Hannah has spent the last five years as head coach of the Simsbury High School junior varsity team.
The Lady Lynx completed their inaugural season with a 21-14-1 record. The new season begins Oct. 3 at Wisconsin.