Spires women's soccer to lean on depth, returning players
The University of Saint Mary women's soccer team -- like many of USM's other athletic programs -- is ready to compete after having the majority of its 2020 campaign wiped away due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saint Mary played seven matches across the 2020-2021 season and went 1-6. The Spires played two matches in the fall, going 1-1, before resuming the season in the spring and going 0-5.
It was evident that the Spires are itching to return to the pitch when head coach Justin Seever -- entering his 10th season at USM -- opened the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference's women's soccer media day and stated this is one of the most exciting teams he has coached.
"This is the largest and deepest roster that we've ever had in this program," Seever said. "We return 22 players that played first-team minutes last year and we added six freshmen and two transfers to join our soccer family."
Seever said the defense will be one of the Spires' main strengths as they return every athlete from last year as well as captain Megan McMillen. McMillen was named an honorable mention all-conference despite USM playing a shortened schedule.
"She (McMillen) recently started graduate school because she loves the game and wanted to give us one more season in the navy and gold," Seever said. "We're excited for her return. She's a three-time captain and a five-year starter for us, which is unheard of."
The Spires also bolstered their midfield with the addition of Butler County Community College transfer Kelsey Ray. She will join returning starters Dianne Rubio and Karleigh Enyart.
Maea Ploetz is back for her sophomore year and is the frontrunner to lead the goalkeepers into the season. Ploetz is the only goalkeeper on the roster that played in a game last season, recording eight saves and four goals allowed in two appearances. Seever said there would be a competition with newcomers sophomore Veronica Dill and freshman Carina Cox.
The Spires got on the field together for the first time Monday and will have a handful of scrimmages and exhibitions to let the competitions for playing time work themselves out.
"We're only one day into training so time will tell who is going to earn big minutes for us," he said. "We have a great problem this year of having an over-abundance of talent., which we're really excited to see."