In the War Room with Warfel: Saluki soccer grade loading

By Adam Warfel, Sports Editor

Including the exhibition game, we are now one month into what soccer looks like at SIU.

The women just finished their six game homestand, including the exhibition against SEMO.

Freshman forward Emma Spotak has separated herself from the group currently leading the team in points with four.

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For any Saluki fan that has seen SIU play, Spotak, number three, looks to always be one of the quickest girls on the field at any time.

When Spotak gets the ball, there is a good chance a shot will be put on goal soon after.

Next on the board, points wise, for Southern is junior forward Kathryn Creedon with three points, coming off of one assist and one goal. 

Creedon has started in all five of the regular season games for the Dawgs and has put 10 shots up, six of which being on goal, which is the third best shot on goal percentage.

On the defensive side of the ball, freshman goalie Dariana Mihalache has defined her role as the starting goalie with a save percentage of 90 percent having faced 30 shots.

Mihalache, or Dari, as her teammates refer to her, passes the eye test as goalie. She makes the big stops in goal when needed, she has grown and consistently been the best player on the team.

Not to say the other goalies have not played well in their limited chances, but Dari has stepped up and even impressed head coach Grant Williams after the 1-0 win against Belmont.

“Goalkeeping was one of the things I was worried about coming into this job,” Williams said. “Dariana has just established herself out of our group as the one who was post prepared to be in goal for us. I think it’s obvious to see why she was attractive to us as a goalkeeper position without a doubt.”

A 3-2 record to start the season is nothing to be upset about, especially when you consider the fact that there are only three upperclassmen on the whole team.

Also, it seems Williams is still looking to find which group of girls work the best together, based on a statement he made after the loss to IUPUI on Sunday.

“I need to take responsibility for not getting a result today,” Williams said. “I made too many changes, and the kids I made changes with didn’t affect the game in a positive way. I was trying to keep in mind that it was hot, but when I shortened the bench in the second half we did everything but score.”

Certainly once Williams finds that group of girls that clicks the best together, I believe this soccer team could be better than expected, especially for a first year team.

Of course, with a first year team, you look to attendance. Plenty of fans came out for the game against SEMO, where it was reported over 2,000 fans showed up.

In the first regular season game against UIS, attendance was probably between five and six hundred. Then, in the game against North Alabama, a reported 451 fans were there.

In every game that I’ve attended the crowds are modest depending on the weather and time of the game, which is nice to see in a first year program.

With SIU now heading on the road for a three game stretch, it will be an interesting test to see how they play on the road.

As far as what the Salukis can improve on, it seems their biggest issue is aside from Spotak, there has yet to be one or two players to take on the role of attacking the goal.

From the defensive side of the ball, I would say they have played really well especially with Mihalache in goal.

So, when the Salukis return to the Lew Hartzog Track and Field Complex on Sept. 15 against Morehead State, a 6-2 record would be nice.

One of those wins would be a victory over Williams’ prior coaching location in Western Kentucky.

Dawgs fans, thank you for what was a fun six-game stretch, and good luck to the women on the road.

Adam Warfel, Sports Editor, can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @warfel_adam.

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