Monday, August 10, 2009

10 Reasons To Watch UWM Women's Soccer

The Milwaukee Examiner ( posted a couple pieces over the weekend leading up to the Milwaukee women's soccer exhibition opener Tuesday night against Illinois State. They counted down "Ten Reasons to Get Excited for UWM Women's Soccer." Here is a link to reasons 6-10 and reasons 1-5.

In light of that, here are the 10 reasons to be excited for the season:

10) Soccer is the World's Sport: Six billion people in this world and the majority of them love soccer. Are they wrong? Nope.

9) 8 Starters Return: The Panthers lost just three starters from last season, bringing back a number of players with starting experience. Granted, two of those starters were Erin Kane and Sarah Teegarden. BUT, a lot of players return from a very good team. That's something to be excited about.

8) More International Flavor: In addition to sophomore Canadian Keara Thompson, Milwaukee has added two more international players in another Calgarian (person from Calgary? Calgarite?) Demi Price and Nicole Munnelly, a lass from the emerald isle Ireland.

7) A Whole Lotta Goals: People who think soccer is boring because of low-scoring games (you know who you are), can find solace at Engelmann Field. UWM scored a school-record 65 goals last season and return the scorers of 56 of those goals in 2009.

6) Home is Where the Heart is...: and the Panthers protect their heart. Milwaukee was 11-0 at home last season and has a 22-game home unbeaten streak entering the season. That streak is tied for the 16th-longest streak in NCAA Division I history.

5) Marquette has to come to Engelmann: UWM hosts its cross-town rival Marquette Sept. 3. The last time the two teams met at Engelmann Field, it was an exciting 0-0 draw (yes, 0-0 draws CAN be exciting... generally not, but sometimes) played in front of a school-record 867 people. The game was also televised live in Milwaukee. The Panthers are 2-0-1 in the last three meetings with the Golden Eagles.

4) National Rankings: The Panthers finished a season ranked for the first time in school history in 2008. No. 24 UWM looks like a strong choice to be ranked in the preseason polls, putting a national spotlight on Engelmann Field

3) Apple: Normally we wouldn't highlight one player, but Sarah Hagen scored 24 goals last season... as a freshman. She's back and likes scoring goals. Oh, and, while the other team is watching her, a lot of other players will be finding the back of the net.

2) Big Ten+1: Milwaukee plays eight Big Ten teams in 2009. EIGHT. Granted, that includes an exhibition match with Michigan State, but UWM plays just eight Horizon League teams by comparison. Come November, when you see the Panthers' record, you'll know they earned it.

No word on Milwaukee's chances for a birth into the Big Ten Tournament.

1) Shooting For 10: The Panthers have won nine-straight Horizon League regular season championships. North Carolina doesn't have a streak that long. IN FACT, only Penn State currently has a longer streak of regular season crowns in the nation (10).

There you have it, 10 reasons you should be at Engelmann Field this season, or at least watching with bated breath every Friday and Sunday after Panther games.

We'll have a good amount of content this week for women's soccer at the main site. I'll have a release Tuesday, the season preview later in the week and recaps of Tuesday and Sunday's exhibition games. The first weekly release will be out next Monday, previewing the season-opening games with Northwestern (Aug. 21) and Wisconsin (Aug. 24).