Lady Miners hope to finish games stronger in 2013.

The 2012 Missouri S&T Lady Miner soccer season wasn't as bad as the record would indicate. Yes, the Lady Miners finished 6-11, but upon closer inspection five of those losses were by a goal and two of those were to teams that played in the NCAA Tournament.

The big thing heading into this season will be the team's ability to finish as S&T plays in arguably one of the best conferences for women's soccer in Division II.

"We're trying to improve our record overall. We had a lot of close matches in which we're competitive," said head coach Joe McCauley. "We brought in some players to help boost us in that direction and we've changed up our style which we hope will create more chances for us.

"We want to keep our opponents under pressure as much as we can and hopefully that will lead to more victories."

The Lady Miners played in three exhibition games and showed improvement in each of them. They started the exhibition slate with a loss at Southeast Missouri State. They followed that up with a 1-0 loss to Southwest Baptist and then closed out the preseason with a 3-2 win at Lindenwood.

"We're seeing some very good things starting to develop," McCauley said. "The key for us is going to be to continue to develop those throughout the season. The way we played against Lindenwood is an encouraging sign for what've got ahead of us. The question is can we continue to build and make it ours."

Up front, S&T scored just 13 goals a year ago, but has a majority of their goal scoring back led by Kimberly Ekholm with three goals and six assists for 12 points. Kelsey Salzman added a goal and five assists while Kirstin Kurilla and Suzy DeWael each added two goals last season. Kendra Wood had a goal and three assists from the midfield.

Several familiar faces return in the midfield led by Wood, Sammy Minea and Kendall Fitzpatrick. Catherine Hawn, a transfer from Missouri-Kansas City, will provide depth at the position along with Kirsten Ramby, Mary Hapak, Sarah Leister and Alexandria Butler.

Along the back line the Lady Miners return a pair of starters in Kacey Ludwig and Sabrina Hostler. They each started every game last season and will be counted upon to anchor the defense. Joining them back there will be Meredith McGhee, Alex McCord and Amanda McDuffee.

S&T has a solid foundation to build in goal returning all three goalkeepers from last season. Kaitlyn Deister and Madison Gibler split time back there last season while Carrie Levy is battling time back there for this season.

Deister started nine contests and had a goals against average of 1.53, while Gibler appeared in eight contests and finished with GAA of 1.59. They both registered a pair of shutouts during the season.

The schedule will be challenging once again this season for the Lady Miners as they'll face five teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season. Added to that mix is Truman State, a perennial power in the MIAA, who'll be playing its first season in the GLVC this year.

S&T kicks off its season this Friday night at Rockhurst beginning at 5 p.m. The home portion of the schedule opens two days later when the Lady Miners play host to William Jewell starting at 12 p.m.

2013 schedule:
Sept. Rockhurst, 5 p.m.*
Sept. 15...William Jewell, noon*
Sept. Southern Indiana, 5 p.m.*
Sept. Illinois Springfield, noon*
Sept. 27...Bellarmine, 5 p.m.*
Sept. 29...McKendree, noon*
Oct. Maryville, 4 p.m.*
Oct. Missouri-St. Louis, noon*
Oct. 11...Truman State, 5 p.m.*
Oct. 13...Quincy, noon*
Oct. Indianapolis*
Oct. Saint Joseph’s, noon*
Oct. 25...Lewis, 5 p.m.*
Oct. 27...Wisconsin-Parkside, noon*
Oct. 30...Drury, 6 p.m.*
*-GLVC game