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IUK women’s inaugural soccer season kicks off

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IUK soccer

GOAL — Members of the IUK women's soccer team pose for a photo while attending a Jackrabbits baseball game together earlier this year.

Players on IU Kokomo’s 2019 women’s soccer team are eager to pave the road for the first of many seasons to come.

Since last fall, Lady Cougars soccer program officials have been working hard to find quality recruits to represent the debut team. With 24 players on the roster, Head Coach Terry Stewart is proud of the team that has been put together.

“I believe that I have a talented group of young ladies with a common goal of being competitive right away,” Stewart said. “With this in mind, our non-conference schedule is one which will certainly test us and hopefully have the squad firing on all cylinders and ready for all of the challenges that the River States Conference will throw our way. I am excited to see how the group will gel through preseason and how they will ultimately grow and develop through the inaugural season.”

Stewart, a Newcastle, England, native, played for St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas, where he earned a two-time all-conference selection at center back and was named the Heartland Conference Player of the Year in 2011. From there, Stewart assisted the men’s soccer team at St. Edwards for two seasons, and then worked at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo., as an assistant coach where he helped lead the men’s program to its first-ever Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) Conference Tournament Championship. Afterward, he moved to Fresno, Calif., where he was the women’s soccer top assistant coach at Fresno Pacific University and helped bring the team up from ranking seventh to second in the conference.

The Lady Cougars currently consist of 24 players, comprised of 19 incoming freshman. Local recruits include Cassie Bryan from Eastern High School and Faith Lytle and Sheris Plemons, both from Western High School. The only senior on the team, Taylor Coram, is already a student-athlete at IU Kokomo, where she also participates on the cross country and track teams. Additionally, the team was fortunate to add three transfers, sophomores Rebekah Forti from Bethel University, Haley Abel from Ancilla College, and junior Brook Switzer from Purdue University Northwest.

“It’s pretty freshman-heavy,” Stewart said. “I do have some transfers that have played at different levels of college that are going bring a lot, not just on the field, but in their experience dealing with class, homework, and all that sort of stuff. I have two (players) in every position, so that way everybody has somebody pushing them to be better. Unfortunately, the way the game is, somebody could get hurt. I hope it doesn’t happen, but there’s cover for those things too.”

The women have spent some time getting to know each other and the school since the program began and so far have enjoyed their interactions as a group. Stewart believes as a team they will be very close, and in his experience, success seems to go hand-in-hand in tightknit teams. He hopes the Lady Cougars will be able to qualify for the conference tournament this season and eventually emulate the success of the other athletic programs at IU Kokomo.

“I think we have the resources and support for sure,” Stewart said. “I have a very talented group, and I think we can give it a good go. I want to build something that Kokomo can be proud of, IUK can be proud of, and I and all the girls can too.”

Stewart invites the community to cheer on the Lady Cougars at the first game of the season on Wednesday, Aug. 28, at Kokomo Municipal Stadium against Huntington University at 7 p.m.