After playing five of their first six matches on the road, the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M women’s soccer team settles into a schedule that has them at home for six of the final 10 matches.
After opening the season at home with Cowley (Kansas) Community on Aug. 22, the Lady Norse won’t play at home again until Sept. 12, when they host Eastern Oklahoma State College.
Six of the final 10 regular season matches will be at the friendly confines of Red Robertson Field.
“The conference keeps getting bigger and bigger,” Lady Norse coach Lisa Bell said. “We went from two teams in the region (NEO and Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa) and now almost every school in the conference has a team. That pretty much dominates our schedule.”
Only four of the 10 schools in the Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference do not play soccer — Carl Albert, Connors State, NOC-Enid and Western.
“We play just a few games early on, then everything else turns into conference,” Bell said. “It will be an interesting year. Northern has kinda run the show quite a bit and have always had a strong program, the oldest running program. Rose State is always strong.
“It will be interesting to see how we compete with those programs, plus the other programs that are growing. There is a lot of good soccer in Oklahoma and we’re all fighting for a lot of the same kids.”
After the Aug. 22 opener, NEO travels to Neosho County (Kansas) CC on Aug. 25, Coffeyville (Kansas) CC on Aug. 28 and State Fair (Missouri) CC on Sept. 2 before settling into the OCAC schedule at Northern-Tonkawa on Sept. 6 and Rose State College on Sept. 9
Home matches for the Lady Norse include Eastern Oklahoma State on Sept. 12, Murray State on Sept. 23, NOC-Tonkawa on Sept. 30, Rose State on Oct. 4, Seminole State on Oct. 11 and Redlands Community College on Oct. 18.
The Region II Tournament again will be played at Robertson Field on Oct. 27-28.
The Lady Norse return seven players back from last year’s side that went 4-11-1 overall and 4-7-1 in the OCAC: sophomores Alyssa Blowe, Cassidy Rumsey, Kaylee Miller, Paige Miller and Caroline Bird.
Paige Miller is a defender from Grove.
Another sophomore on the roster is Fortune Kede.
NEO has been dogged by bad luck the last four years in the Region II Tournament.
The Lady Norse suffered a 2-0 shootout loss to NOC-Tonkawa in the first round of last year’s tournament.
The teams were tied through regulation and both 10-minute overtime periods.
In 2016, they fell 1-0 to Rose State, 2-1 to Rose State in 2015 and 1-0 to Eastern in 2014, the only goal coming on a penalty kick.
Sophomore Chloe Shipman was named to the all-tournament team and sophomores Ashya Butler and Kayla Mireles were named to the all-Region 2 team.
“This year, I think I have my biggest Oklahoma team oddly enough,” Bell said. “Typically, I have a lot of girls from Texas. I think one or two years they were the dominance of our team, but if you look at it, this year they’re almost all from Oklahoma.”
August — 22, Cowley County (Kansas) CC; 25 at Neosho County (Kansas) CC; 28, at Coffeyville (Kansas) CC,
September — 2, at State Fair (Missouri) CC; 6, at Northern-Tonkawa; 9, at Rose State; 12, Eastern; 16, at Seminole; 20, at Redlands; 23, Murray State; 30, Northern-Tonkawa.
October — 4, Rose State; 7, at Eastern; 11, Seminole; 14, Redlands; 18, at Murray State; 27, Region II Tournament; 28, Region II Tournament.