The Southeast Missouri State University soccer team won the Ohio Valley Conference regular-season title. It was picked as the No.1 seed for the OVC Tournament. It was even playing on its home field at Houck Stadium, but with only 52 seconds left in the OVC Tournament semifinal game it gave up a goal that sent Morehead State to the championship game and ended the Redhawks' season earlier than it expected.
"We had a reasonably successful season last year, but we let the tournament championship slip through our fingers, so this year hopefully we can take the whole thing and make it to the NCAA [tournament]," senior defender Hayley Abbott said.
Five starters from that team had to be replaced this season, including defenders Nikki Edwards, who was named to the All-OVC first team, and Shona Goodwin, who was named to the All-OVC tournament team. Abbott, an All-OVC tournament team member, and senior Meg Herndon return as defenders this season and coach Paul Nelson moved senior Ali Bauer to defense from midfield.
"Really great headers back there, really great at clearing things out and then she also uses her midfield advantages," junior goalkeeper Ashton Aubuchon said about Bauer. "If there's space in front of her, she's one of our very few defenders who can actually take it forward and pull some moves on some people, and they're not going to expect it."
Aubuchon, who was an OVC first team selection in 2011 returns as goalkeeper and said that she knows her coaches and teammates expect her to guide them because she can see the entire field. On the offensive end, Southeast returns 2011 OVC freshman of the year Erin Shulman, who scored nine goals last season.
"I mean, last year I just played how I play and everything, and there wasn't much pressure on me until the end, but this year I feel like I have to prove myself again, and that's going to be hard," Shulman said. "But if I just continue to play how I usually play it should just happen."
The Redhawks have been coached by Paul Nelson so far this season. Nelson has been an assistant coach for the past 14 seasons. He is replacing his wife, Heather, while she is recovering from injuries sustained in an accident over the summer. She has coached the Redhawks for 14 seasons.
"It's a little more relaxed at times, and I think that is sort of one of the big things that's missing, that pressure that's on you at all times," Aubuchon said. "She's also great at pregame speeches. She just always has the perfect speech to say to rile everybody up so we'll be missing that before our games, but he's doing a great job, and everything will be alright."
The team has a record of 0-1-1. The Redhawks lost to Illinois State 2-1 on Friday and played to a scoreless tie against St. Louis University on Sunday. Southeast faces UMKC and Drake at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 24 and 26, respectively.
"At this point, especially with how we performed last year, I'd have to say that I'd be a little upset if we didn't get conference champions again," Aubuchon said. "I think we definitely have the potential to do that."