COLUMBIA — The Stephens College soccer team is halfway through its season, carrying an 0-9 record and entering the heart of American Midwest Conference play.
Although the team is winless so far, coach Xander Kennedy says he has seen improvement in his team, especially on defense.
The team has given up its fair share of goals this season, including 25 in its first match of the season against Spring Hill College. Since that game, Stephens has gotten better about limiting its opponents' scoring. The Stars allowed five goals a game in matches against Lincoln Christian University and Harris-Stowe University.
"As a defensive unit, we've actually fortified our back line in an effective way," Kennedy said.
Danielle Wilson, a sophomore captain, also thinks the defense has played well for the Stars this year.
"Our defensive line has definitely stepped up," Wilson said. "We've learned a lot. I think now we've got a pretty set role on the field, and now, we just have to learn to spread that out and mix it up a bit."
The Stars are currently 0-2 in conference play and face Park University on Wednesday afternoon. Park is a team Stephens lost to 22-0 last season. Kennedy and the players are hoping for a better result in the team's second season and second match against Park.
"There's a lot of teams we play that have been around for years," Wilson said. "That's always a struggle but, you know, just another learning experience."
Scoring is also something that has been new for the Stars this year. Last season in the team's inaugural National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics season, the team did not score a goal in any of its matches. This year, Stephens has six goals through its first nine matches.
"All I can do is think about comparing this season to last season," Wilson said. "Last season, we had no goals halfway through. (This season), we've had multiple shots on goal. Even with that, people may look at us and think that's really weird, but it's a really big accomplishment."
Stephens is scheduled to play eight more games this season. Of these games, five will be on the road and all will be against conference opponents.
Kennedy said the team plans to continue to play better, and hopefully by the end of the season, the Stars will have its first win.
"A coach's job is never done," Kennedy said. "That's especially true for a team that's as developmental as we are."
Supervising editor is Erik Hall: sports@ColumbiaMissourian.com, 882-5729.