RIO GRANDE, Ohio — On the heels of their most successful season in program history, the University of Rio Grande women’s soccer team will open the 2015 campaign on Wednesday night when Marian (Ind.) University visits for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
The game will be played on the URG practice field rather than Evan E. Davis Field, while the playing surface at the stadium continues to recover from damage caused by excessive summer rain.
Rio Grande finished 12-6 last season, posting a 6-0 record in Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play and capturing the KIAC’s regular season and tournament championships.
The KIAC tourney title gave head coach Callum Morris’ squad its first-ever NAIA National Tournament berth, where the RedStorm suffered a season-ending loss at Cumberland (Tenn.) University.
A number of regulars from last year’s team, including All-KIAC goal keeper Allison Keeney (83 saves, .798 save percentage, 9 shutouts), will not be returning. Still, the RedStorm were the overwhelming top pick in the league’s preseason coaches’ poll.
Among those who are back, though, is senior forward Kasey Crow (Chillicothe, OH), the KIAC Player of the Year and an honorable mention All-American. She led the team with 10 goals in 2014 and is the program’s all-time leading scorer.
Other returnees include junior midfielder Melissa Dickerson (Little Hocking, OH), an All-KIAC pick who had two goals and a team-high four assists last year; senior midfielder Taylor Ahrens (Ross, OH), the KIAC Comeback Player of the Year with three goals and an assist; and sophomore defender Rachel Ahrens (Ross, OH), an all-KIAC honoree who headed up the Rio defense last season.
Marian University, which is located in Indianapolis, Ind., is a member of the NAIA’s Crossroads League. The Knights posted an overall record of 9-7-1 last season, including a 5-4 mark in league play.
Head coach Gary Yohe’s program lost seven seniors from last year’s club, including midfielder Colleen Diemer, who was one of only two players to finish with double-digit points (one goal, a team-best eight assists, 10 pts.).
Among the returnees, though, is junior forward Olivia Annee, who led the team with 10 goals and 23 points. Also back is junior forward Marianne Sergi, who netted four goals last season, and senior goal keeper Madeline Weber, who recorded 79 saves and a .725 save percentage last season.
Wednesday’s game will be the first meeting between the schools in women’s soccer.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.