The Milligan College women’s soccer team is set for the 2015 campaign.
The Lady Buffs will start off its 2015 season with back-to-back home matches by hosting a tournament on Labor Day weekend on Aug. 29-30. The Buffaloes will take on the University of Rio Grande on the first day, followed by West Virginia University of Technology on the second.
“Rio was probably one of the most disappointing losses for us last year,” said Head Coach Lisa Buckley who is now entering her eighth season, “So it will be nice to get another chance at them.”
The Buffs will then alternate between home and away matches before starting conference play on Sept. 16 against Montreat College on the road.
The Buffs first home Appalachian Athletic Conference match will see them take on Tennessee Wesleyan College in part of a four match home stand for Milligan.
Other key conference matchups for Milligan this year include St. Andrew’s University on Oct. 20, and Reinhardt University in the regular season finale on Oct. 28.
Coach Buckley said, “I think if you look at the evolution of the conference over the last two or three years, top to bottom it’s become very difficult to win, and that is a good thing. You never know who will win on any given weekend.”
Milligan will finish the season by having its final five matches alternate between home and away as the Buffs gear up for the AAC Tournament.
“We should be right up there in the top three in the conference if we can accomplish what we are capable of,” said Coach Buckley.
Returning to help Milligan accomplish their goal this year will be senior midfielders Ellery Alloiner and Caroline Gill , junior midfielder/forward Rebecca Buchanan, sophomore defender/midfielder Sami Joy and sophomore midfielder Brittany Davis .
Davis is the Buffs leading returning goal scorer from last season with three, and she also paced the team in points (6) and shots on goal (11). Buchanan and junior midfielder/forward Christine Hardin, a former Elizabethton standout, return as Milligan’s leading shot takers last year with 18 and 16 respectively. Additionally, junior goalkeeper Charlotte Stephens returns to the net for the Buffs after staring all 16 matches last year, and recording 74 saves and three shutouts.
Key newcomers to Milligan’s roster this season include forward Amy Long, midfielder Amy Olvera and midfielder/forward Madison Thomas. All three will be freshmen this year, and Olvera has club soccer experience playing with current Buffs Joy and Taylor Hatmaker.
“Amy Long plays for the Manchester City reserves in England, and is a very technical and exciting player to watch,” said Coach Buckley. “She is very creative going forward, and should score some goals for us. Amy Olvera is very good with the ball and distributes it well. She is a very strong all-around player. Madison Thomas is a very quick player, and it will be interesting to see how she develops. Her athleticism is second to none.”
Big losses for Milligan on their roster this year include the leadership of midfielder Lauren Brewer and forward/midfielder Alexa Bigl.
The Buffs will have 17 total returners this year to go with eight new players.
“Our team will be a very similar team to last year in that we did not lose a lot of starters, but I feel like we sat back a lot last year,” said Coach Buckley. “This year we will have more attacking players and players who can beat their opponent one on one. Freshman Taylor Robinson will come in hoping to push the goalkeepers, so hopefully we will have three keepers playing the best soccer of their careers. Additionally, we will probably have a little bit more depth. Going deeper into the bench should change things up a bit.”
Coach Buckley added, “Defensively we will be a much more organized team. Rather than trying to defend athletically, we will do it much more cognitively and in an organized manner. Obviously it was a disappointing year last year not scoring enough goals. We defended well but you put a lot of pressure on yourself when you do not score goals. We are looking to fix that.”
Milligan finished the 2014 season 4-10-2 overall, 3-5-2 in the AAC, and fell to Bryan College 1-0 in the opening round of the AAC Tournament. Overall, Coach Buckley has amassed a 56-52-17 record in her first seven seasons as the Buffs’ mentor, and under Buckley, Milligan has recorded one AAC championship and a runner-up finish.