The Mississippi College Choctaws battle the Delta State Statesmen for the Heritage Bell trophy! By Corey Rholdon

The 38th meeting of the Heritage Bell Classic will take place thus Saturday night at Roberson-Hale Stadium. The Mississippi College Choctaws and the Delta State Statesmen have been battling it out since 1935, and Okra currently have a 20-15-2 all-time series lead on the Choctaws. Although MC has been unsuccessful as of late, the players of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90 have a fond memory of the Rivalry. These alumni are excited that the rivalry is back since MC rejoined the GSC in 2014, and believe it will once again be a prodigious rivalry.

Mississippi College Dean of Students, Dr. Turcotte is one of those alumni who is excited the Choctaws and Okra are competing again. Dr. Turcotte was the placekicker for MC during the late 70’s and early 80’s. “Well I am very excited about having the rivalry back I’ve never really lost my competition and competitive nature. I am trying to get students to feel it too, but when we first started a few years ago I was going on about it and the students were like what is this guy talking about… Delta State… They don’t really have an understanding yet how deeply those of us who were athletes back a long time ago felt about this rivalry” Turcotte said.

Dr. Turcotte had some great memories of his playing days against Delta State, but two of them were better than the rest. “But I will never forget in 1982 we were playing at Delta State and one of my best friends Major Everett who was the running back on the team; who later went on to play pro football” said Turcotte. “He came off the field and they radioed down into coach and said Major is about to set an NCAA record put him back in. He went back in he rushed for around 340 yards in one game” Turcotte said.

“The other memory was when I was a senior; I was the student government president of Mississippi College and the placekicker on the football team” said Turcotte. “We played Delta State here at Mississippi College, and I hired a sky diver to put on our mascot uniform and dive out of an airplane and parachute into the middle of the football field at the beginning of the game to fire up the crowd. He ran into a tepee and changed with the real mascot. We ended up winning that game.” Turcotte said.

Athletic Director Mike Jones said the rivalry is a well-respected rivalry, and that it means a whole lot for the state of Mississippi and both of the athletic departments. “The renewal of it is great for athletics, the state and for both of our schools” Jones said. “You don’t have to tell the kids, they understand it is an instate game; 2 hours away. They are a very good athletic program, and we are trying to get back to be just like they are.”

After Mississippi College rejoined division two in 2014, all of the “old” alumni were ecstatic to bring the Heritage Bell Classic back. “The biggest thing that I’ve heard when we came back from division two was to beat Delta State! That was pretty neat, that was the first thing that all the alum said” Jones said. “All of the former players in the 70’s and 80’s have come back and they are involved. Of course they knew what that rivalry meant. I know when I was here during the 80’s coach Williams always said this is Delta State week, so it meant a great deal to us” said Jones.

Choctaws Men’s Head Basketball Coach Don Lofton played football for MC during the 70’s and he believes the rivalry will eventually gain the interest it once had. “When we were division two before it was a huge rivalry. I think now since we’ve gone back from division 3 to division 2 I think over time the rivalry will come back, and the interest from the fans will come back” Lofton said. “Over time the rivalry will be huge again. We need that, it is healthy for Mississippi College athletics. Coaches and players always look forward to playing big games. You want to coach in big games, and you want to play in big games” said Lofton.

Back in the 70’s and 80’s is was THE BIG GAME, as the Choctaws prepared for the Statesmen all year said Turcotte. “Well it’s personally because when I was a student they were our number one rival, and we prepared for them all year. It did not matter what kind of season we were having it was possible for one great team to lose to a not so great team in any given year. I did not really care if we won another game the whole year as long as we beat Delta State. It was a traditional rivalry. On the field, it was very rough and intense” said Turcotte.

Mike Jones is a happy man whenever any Choctaws team beats Delta State, and he believes that a win like this could turn the football season around. “It would be great for our football program, anytime you beat Delta State it is great for your program. Anytime you beat Delta State in anything, as an athletic director it is a great moment for me” Jones said.

The Rivalry with Delta State is not just on the playing field but the recruiting field, coach Lofton says beating Delta State helps recruiting. “In terms of recruiting it think it is huge, and in college athletics is comes down to players. Beating Delta State will gain the respect back that we need in the athletic program” said Lofton.

The Choctaws look to beat the Okra for the first time since 1993 Saturday night. MC has lost the last 5 meetings (Did not play from 1996-2013). But there is no better way to turn the season around than beating the 13th ranked Delta State Statesman at home. Go Choctaws!

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The 17th ranked MC Women’s Soccer team looks to continue its hot start as GSC play continues. By Corey Rholdon

Coach Longabaugh and his Lady Choctaws started their season on fire. The team currently has a 3-0-1 record with a tie against 13th ranked North Georgia. Longabaugh says the team has to take it one game at a time. “We have to take game by game, win it game by game. We need to win the conference to automatically qualify to get in (the NCAA tournament). I think we started off on a great foot, up in Cleveland, Tennessee, when we went up to play Rollins, who did beat us out last year to get into the national tournament. We beat them to make a point.”

After beating Rollins, the Lady Choctaws tie against number 13th ranked North Georgia and that proved the team can compete with anyone, Coach Longabaugh says. “We tied them (North Georgia) in double overtime on a neutral field, which was great because it proves we were just as good as they are. We are that kind of a program; we are a nationally competitive program.”

Junior Goalkeeper Andrea McDonald says the team needs to keep its composure, as it is a long season. “We need composure because last year we were so close, and we were so close my freshman year. Last year we made it to the conference finals and this year it’s about staying strong throughout the whole entire year.”

McDonald says the team is no longer underdogs, and since they are ranked 17th in the nation, the team will get their opponent’s best each and every match. “We are currently 17th in the nation right now, which means we have a target on our backs and we are going to keep it that way.”

Captain Katie Taylor has enjoyed seeing her teammates come together this season. “This year we are working for each other. We literally have girls doing the extra slide tackles, the extra sprints, because they know the person beside them is working just as hard. It’s been cool to watch us grow off the field and on it.”

Taylor wants the Lady Choctaws to outwork every team they face this season and be known as the hardest working team in the Gulf South Conference. “When we leave the field we want the other team to be able to say that we are the hardest working team they’ve played all year.”

Coach Longabaugh really likes his team, and he says the team has a good mix with young players and veterans. “We have a young team mixed with a little bit of older veterans; our midfield is strong, and our backline is strong.”

The Lady Choctaws go on the road this weekend to face Shorter on Friday, and Lee on Sunday. The tough road trip is a good test for MC Coach Longabaugh says as the team needs wins against tough opponents to get into the NCAA tournament. “We have to play teams like that if we want to advance into the national tournament or even the conference tournament for that matter.”

MC’s goal for the rest of the season is to keep winning games and win the GSC. “We want to win conference,” said McDonald.

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Running: It’s a sport! By Madison Brown

The Mississippi College men and women’s cross country teams are off to a great start this season. MC hosted the season opener at Choctaw Trails in the beginning of September. The men’s team claimed the No. 1 spot against 13 NCAA and NAIA schools, and the women’s team finished in second place behind Division I member, Southern Miss. Both Mississippi College cross country teams are led by some of the strongest runners in the GSC.

Senior Abbie Easter and Junior Jordan Pritchard are two leading runners for the blue and gold cross country teams. A transfer from Lake Erie in Painesville, Ohio, Pritchard led the men’s team in their season opener. He finished in third place with a time of 16:34.20. He was also named “Wright and Ferguson Athlete of the Week.” Running all four years with the Choctaws, Easter finished in the top seven for the Lady Choctaws. Overall, she finished in 17th place with a time of 16:17.79.

Easter and Pritchard both began running at an early age, but it was due to the encouragement of others that they really got into cross country. Aside from joining the soccer team in middle school, running was never on Abbie’s radar, at least until the 7th grade. “My best friend actually made me join the cross country team. That’s when I started running.” For Pritchard, running was just something his parents made him do in the 4th grade. “I’ve always been really fast, and I was always running around in the yard. So, my parents made me do track.” He didn’t start running cross country until his junior year of high school because he was focused on other sports, like basketball.

When most people think of running, they usually imagine an individual sport, but there is a team aspect to it. Easter says, “It is individualized in the sense that you’re always trying to beat your personal record, but it’s also a team in the fact that we focus a lot on running together as a pack.” She says it’s easier to run with teammates beside you who push you harder than if you were alone. Pritchard says team scoring is emphasized in cross country versus track because every team member is valuable.

Both Easter and Pritchard have individual goals for this season, too. In her last year of running with the Choctaws, Easter aims to be more of a leader. “There’s several seniors this year. We wanna leave the team in a good place.” She hopes to continue bettering her personal record and finish in the top seven to qualify for regionals.  For Pritchard in his first year at MC, he wants to have a high team finish. “Hopefully I can get all-conference and all-regional this fall.”

Finally, they decided what they enjoy most about running. Pritchard says his favorite thing is seeing his progress. “It’s just seeing where you’ve started and where you’ve come. When I first started running, I could barely run a lap, and now I can do, like, 15 miles.” For Easter, it’s the same idea, but her teammates are what makes it enjoyable.  “It’s a totally different relationship — having to put yourself through those challenges and having somebody to do that beside you.”

The men and women’s team practice together every weekday morning to prepare for their next meet. Both teams will travel to Memphis, Tenn., where they will compete in the Rhodes Invitational on Sept. 16.

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Player Profile: Joshua Robinson By Anais Eliseeva

Full name: Joshua Marcus Robinson

Birth date: April 27th, 1997

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 160 lbs

Position: Forward

Joshua Robinson came to Mississippi College from London three years ago to receive a bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in Business and to play for the MC soccer team, which is no less important. The quality of education as well as the quality of the soccer program were the two decisive criteria for choosing a university. Robinson was also looking at universities in the UK, Oregon, Idaho, and West Virginia. However, the final choice fell on MC.

Soccer has taken place in Robinson’s life since childhood. “Soccer is just so ingrained in the lifestyle of my country that everyone grows up playing it. I went from playing in the streets of London as a young boy, using jumpers [sweaters] for goalposts, to playing for my local Sunday League team,” he said. It is worth noting that prior to the Choctaws, Robinson semi-professionally played at Sutton United Football Club.

Besides soccer, Robinson was fond of other sports as well, which helped him to improve his skills as a soccer player. “I swam frequently and that helped with my core strength and balance, skills that go a long way in soccer. I also ran track, which of course helped my speed and endurance,” said Robinson. He also added that he mastered the art and skill of Karate and achieved First Dan [rank] Black Belt. “I’m a rather physical soccer player,” he said. “I don’t mind taking a hit and definitely don’t shy away from giving one.”

As for Robinson’s strengths as a soccer player, Robinson stands out because of his athleticism and also because he usually plays aggressive soccer. “When I have a smile on my face, I’m the most dangerous. I like to be a positive character on the field, commending my teammates when they do well and encouraging them when they mess up,” said Robinson. At the same time, he admitted that his “on-ball decision-making” may be a little quicker than it should.

According to Head Coach Kevin Johns, “Josh is a ‘Smart Proper Witty Englishman’ and, as a soccer player, he is a pacey winger who trains and works very hard for the team.”

Robinson grew up watching the English Premier League when it was emerging. “I became a fan of two players around the early 2000s: Louis Saha and Thierry Henry. I, being a Manchester United fan, had a jersey with Saha’s number on my back with Robinson instead. I hated how much I loved Henry, as he’d always score past us,” he said.

“Being a student-athlete really is a way of life,” said Robinson. He explained it as a 4-year commitment to participate in a sporting program as well as to receive a higher education. “I have the utmost respect for all my fellow student athletes, as it is more difficult than I anticipated,” said Robinson. Even though it is hard to find a lot of free time while being a student athlete, Robinson likes to spend it reading, eating, and sleeping. “Not necessarily in that order though,” he noted. Robinson also added, “I’m an avid part-time video gamer, playing Super Smash Bros — and this is a public call-out to anyone willing to get patterned!”

Robinson’s usual pregame ritual helps him do his best on the field. “Before I step onto the field I religiously talk to myself with a little mnemonic I’ve been doing for as long as I remember, SLM. It stands for ‘Soccer Lets Me,’ and I follow it with what I’m able to do and what I am grateful for,” said Robinson. This takes around a minute and then he steps on the field with his right foot first. Also, there are two songs that keep Robinson motivated, which are “Roc Boys” by Jay-Z and “Money Dance” by Rick Ross. “Every single time,” he said, “It makes me feel so grand and so knowing of my worth.”

Soccer has given Robinson countless opportunities in his life. For example, he toured Europe twice playing soccer. “I also have teammates from across the globe who have become some of my closest friends,” he said. “Ultimately, soccer has given me the opportunity to get a degree whilst playing the sport I love being in a new country, conquering unchartered territory! I’d be crazy to say no to it!”

Robinson also shared some of his life goals. Looking to the future, he is looking forward to get into pharmaceutical sales. “Whether that’s in the United States or elsewhere, I will find out. All I know is I will need to be able to keep my family close as I’m so tight with them,” he said. Currently, he does his best to focus on both contributing to the soccer team as well as maintaining a solid GPA. “This season I have two personal goals: to improve my consistency whilst playing with a smile on my face and to fight for my spot in that squad,” said Robinson.

“I’m grateful for my family, as they support me, and without them, I’d genuinely be lost,” he said. “I’m grateful to those who inspire me, whether they know it or not. I’m funnily enough grateful for my mnemonic, SLM, as it’s brought me so much joy with the thing I love. I’m grateful for my independence and stubbornness, as it was those things that got me out to America to pursue my dreams. Last of all, I’m grateful for my teammates, as they’ve been a family out here to me.”

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MC Softball “Fall Ball” Kickoff by Carlie Prescott

Following the Gulf South Conference Championship last year, the Mississippi College softball team is ready to kick off this year’s season of fall ball. Fall ball is essential to the success of this team, because it’s a time to focus on the growth of the team and to prepare for the spring season. This team will take full advantage of this time to go above and beyond the bar that was set last season with the conference championship win. Head Coach Brooke O’Hair says, “During the fall season, you are not as worried about the wins and losses as you are the development of your team.” This time is vital. With a different group of girls learning how to work collectively, fall ball is the manner in which they discover how to fuse one another’s abilities together. Freshman player Alexis Jones says, “I can’t wait until next week when we get to start full practice and see how we all gel together on the field.”

The goal each and every year, according to O’Hair, is to win the Gulf South Conference championship. “We were blessed enough to come out on top last season, but the goal is to be a consistent program,” she said. “We also want to get back to NCAA postseason play and learn from last year to advance deeper into the tournament.”

Already, O’Hair can see the qualities of the team that will be beneficial this year. “This team will have some collegiate experience in the circle. Last year, we had such an inexperienced pitching staff, but we bring back a lot of talent and girls that saw a lot of time on the field,” she said. With regards to the upcoming season, she added, “I’m looking forward to seeing how much that helps us going forward.”

Concerning her final season as a Choctaw, senior player Katherine Lee says, “I know this team is going to give everything they have to be the best in the conference again. I expect us to compete for the conference title and to advance further in the NCAA postseason because of all the talent we have on this team.” A challenge Lee addresses for this season is that the team lost four starters from last season, so it will take time to get used to playing with one another. Regardless, she believes this team still has the ability to be the best on the field.

The Lady Choctaws’ first opponent of the season is Copiah-Lincoln Community College on Sept. 30 in Clinton. Co-Lin is a good junior college program and will be a proper test to start off for the team, according to O’Hair. The toughest opponents of the season, in the eyes of the coaches, will be Co-Lin and Pearl River Community College, as well as Southern Union from Ala. O’Hair says that in recent years, each of those schools have helped the team in the recruitment process, and the team is excited to face them on the field. On Oct. 7, The Lady Choctaws are also competing against South Alabama, a Division 1 program that went 35-20 in 2017 and just missed out on a berth in the national tournament. With these teams in line, the Mississippi College softball players will have a true test of their abilities early.

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DIG, SET, SPIKE! Lady Choctaw Volleyball Team Looks Build on Last Year’s Improvements! By Andrew Vaughn

The Mississippi College Volleyball team defeated the Loyola (La.) Wolfpack this week, 3 sets to none. This marks the first time in program history the Lady Choctaws defeated the Wolfpack. The team will travel to Arkansas for the Dr. Margaret Downing Invitational, where they will finish out their non-conference schedule with matches against Grambling State, Arkansas-Monticello, Texas A&M International, and tournament host, Southern Arkansas. The Lady Choctaws will play host to Auburn Montgomery to kick off Gulf South Conference play.

With a record of 10-21, one might not instantly describe the 2016 season as successful, but it was a huge improvement for the Lady Choctaws. 2016 was the first time in five seasons that they won 10 games. It was also Julie Redus’s first year as head coach. When any coach comes to a program, especially one that has not been winning a lot, they want to change the team’s culture. That is easier said than done, but Coach Redus thinks the Lady Choctaws are on the right track. “It’s really hard to change a culture, especially with the transition to Division 2 and playing in a tough conference like the Gulf South Conference. What’s going to change our culture this year is our eight-senior squad. I’ve got eight seniors this year who are really changing the culture themselves. I’m just allowing them and leading them in the right direction. I let them take control and leave their own legacy. Culture and legacy are synonyms for us right now.”

Senior Madison Frazier would like to see more conference wins this year, as the Lady Choctaws only won three Gulf South Conference matchups. “It was great to have 10 wins,  of course, but we would hope to get a lot more conference wins this year. We had a slow start but I feel like we can still do it, for sure.” Two of those conference wins last year came against the West Georgia Wolves, who happen to be one of Frazier’s favorite opponents. “My favorite team to play against is West Georgia; we’ve beaten them twice, two years in a row. Hopefully we can do that again.”

Junior Shelby Grace Mays and her teammates have established a team goal to help get more wins this year. “Our goals are to minimize on our own errors. We think we have a lot of potential this year; we have a lot of talent. I think we really beat ourselves most of the time by our own errors. I think if we minimize our own errors offensively and defensively we will double our wins from last year.” By eliminating errors, you avoid beating yourself — this can be applied to all sports. Mays also has a personal goal she believes will help the team. “My personal goal is help the team as much as I can by minimizing on my own errors. Serving errors are big for me right now.” You can find Mays in the gym getting in extra practice on her serves, especially for opponents from Alabama. Mays, an Alabama native, looks forward to playing against other players from her home state. “Coming from Alabama I would love to whoop up on UNA or West Alabama or Huntsville. There’s a lot of pressure when I play over there, but I feel like I play better under pressure, so that helps. There’s at least one player on each of those teams that I played club (volleyball) with, so it’s always good playing against old friends.”

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MC Football team starts the 2017 season. By Madison Brown

The Mississippi College Choctaws begin their 2017-2018 season on Thursday as they travel to Atlanta, Georgia to face the Clark-Atlanta Panthers.  John Bland begins his fourth season as head coach and looks to improve his 6-24 record. Bland says with the addition and contribution of new players on the roster, the team has improved greatly over the last three weeks of preseason practice.  “They’re growing together as a team,” Bland says, “and that’s awesome to see.” He, along with the rest of the coaching staff, is excited to see the team “on display in the regular season.”

To start the season, the Choctaws are on the road for the first three weeks before playing two home games in a row[a].  Bland says the constant travel will have the more effect on the coaching staff rather than the players. Although being on the bus for such a long time will be difficult, he doubts it will have any effect on their playing abilities.

Looking forward to the new season, Bland hopes for some victories to add to the Choctaws record. He says, “We’ve used the majority of our scholarships,” something that hasn’t happened at MC over the last 22 years.  “Being able to compete at a higher level” he feels will carry over into the win column.

Senior Chris Manning is excited to continue his football career for a fourth and final season with the Choctaws. The Gulf South Conference chose Manning as the only nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team for his contributions on and off the field. Manning has made a huge impact on both his teammates and community.

Starting as defensive back, Manning says the team is “developing talent wise and we’ve all grown together as a family.” He is one o only a few players who have been with the Choctaw team all four years. With years of experience behind him, Manning feels that his most important role on the team is to be a leader because other team members look up to him. After a month of long summer practices, he’s excited to get this new season underway.  “We’re just ready to play another team besides ourselves.”

The Choctaws are looking for their third consecutive win in a season opener against first time opponent, Clark Atlanta. Next week, the team travels to Bolivar, MO to face the Southwest Baptist Bearcats.

MC Men’s Soccer: The Numbers Behind the Choctaws. By: Andrew Vaughn

The Mississippi College Men’s Soccer Team looks to start out the 2017 campaign on a high note as they play host to the Nova Southeastern Sharks. After an interview with Head Coach Kevin Johns and Senior Midfielder Bastian Busch, the Choctaws look to build on last year’s regular season dominance. Soccer, like all sports, can be broken down as a game of numbers. These numbers seem random and insignificant alone, but when related back to MC Men’s Soccer they are important.

15: The number of international players the Choctaws have on their roster. It is the second most in the Gulf South Conference. Coach Johns attributes the worldwide popularity and opportunities in the United States for student athletes to the amount of players who want to come to the United States, “…with soccer being the world’s game and the most popular game in the world. The game itself is played in every single country with a massive passion. In America, (soccer) it’s way down the list as far as the passion compared to other countries. And they all would love to come get an education in America. In most of those countries, you either pick university or soccer. They don’t have the opportunity to get an education and play soccer.”

12: The number of returning seniors. This depth of experienced players will help the team execute little details that can mean the difference between a win and a loss. Senior Bastian Busch highlighted some of the keys the team has been focusing on this offseason, ““This year we will focus on trying to move the ball quickly and limiting our mistakes. When games are close, it’s the first team to make a mistake that would lose the game.”

10: With 10 wins last season, Mississippi College finished the regular season with the best record and therefore the number 1 seed in the GSC Tournament. Last year was a huge improvement from 2015’s 8th place regular season finish.

9: The jersey number of last year’s scoring leader for the Choctaws: Jorge Delgado. Delgado led the Choctaws on the offensive end, with ten goals and forty-three shots. Fear not Choctaw fans, Coach Johns believes the combination of solid defense and good recruiting will pick up any slack left on the offensive end.

3: The West Alabama Tigers have won 3 straight Gulf South Conference Championships. They look to win another as the coaches of the GSC voted them to first place in the GSC Men’s Soccer Poll. Coach Johns expressed the depth in the GSC, “Our conference is not top heavy, like there’s not a team that could win the national championship. There’s five or six teams that could win the conference.”

1: The jersey number of the reigning Gulf South Conference Player of the Year Humberto Pelaez. The senior goalkeeper is also a preseason All-GSC Pick. Pelaez anchors the Choctaw defense as the one of the best players in the conference. It will make it easier on the offensive end for newcomers when you have such a reliable, experienced goalie behind you.

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Title Bound? Lady Choctaws Have Sights Set on GSC Championship in Second Year of Competition By: Josh Clark

                     “Great moments are born from great opportunities.” That’s what USA head coach Herb Brooks told his group of ragtag college hockey players in the locker room as they prepared to take on Russia in the semifinal game of the 1980 Winter Olympics. His team entered the game as the ultimate underdogs, with their roster being primarily comprised of players either fresh out of college or not good enough for professional play. Their opponent was a team that had not lost a game in the Winter Olympics in 12 years. The Russian machine was supposedly undefeatable, and it seemed as though only a miracle would help the Americans prevail. But that’s exactly what happened and the USA won, successfully giving birth to the “Miracle on Ice.”

          A great moment was born from the greatest of opportunities, and the 1980 Miracle team is immortalized in American history because of it. And though they may not become one of the greatest stories in American sports, it doesn’t downplay the great opportunity that the Mississippi College Lady Choctaws soccer team has this coming season.

          This fall, the Lady Choctaws will dive into their second season as full-time members of the Gulf South Conference, and there’s plenty of reasons to be excited for the year.

          In their first season as full-time members in the fall of 2016, MC took the GSC by storm. They turned in a 13-5-2 overall record and a 9-2-1 record in conference play. This performance was good enough to get them third place in the GSC standings and an automatic bid to the GSC Tournament. In the tournament, they almost went the distance (including an upset win in PKs against no. 2 Lee University), but fell just short in a 2-0 loss to the West Florida Argonauts in the championship.

          With the loss, MC fell just short of the NCAA Division II playoffs. West Florida earned a spot and advanced to the quarterfinals (final eight) before losing to Columbus State. The Argonauts finished eighth overall in the NCAA D-II Top 25 poll. So in other words, the Lady Choctaws fell two goals short of one of the best teams in Division II. But the past is the past and it’s time to look towards the future.

          The Lady Choctaws enter the 2017 season as one of the best teams in the GSC. MC landed third in the preseason coaches’ poll, trailing the same two teams they did in the 2016 final standings (West Florida and Lee). Though they didn’t receive any first-place votes, they earned a top spot because of their solid 2016 performance. But could this be the year that the Lady Choctaws take it one step further? It certainly seems like it could be.

          The Lady Choctaws began preseason practice on Monday, Aug. 14 here in Clinton, MS. Since then, they have played two exhibition games against LSUA and Hinds Community College. They beat Hinds by a whopping score of 12-0 and edged LSUA by a score of 1-0 thanks to a goal from junior Daisy Rodgers. The Colleyville, TX native is one of the many Lady Choctaws excited for the season.

          “We have a lot of returning talent and new talent,” Rodgers said of the 2017 squad. “Our bench is pretty stacked.”

          24 of the 41 players on the Lady Choctaw roster are returners from last season, with nine of them being presumed starters. In addition to the 24 returners, senior Caitlin Hayes and sophomore Lauren Kate Carter made the GSC Preseason All-Conference Team. Sophomore transfer Scarlett Hodges and freshman Holly Pascoe made the GSC list of Top Newcomers as well.

 

“We’ve been focusing very much [in the preseason] on precision in our formation and the structure of it,” Rodgers said. “Our formation we switched up a little bit this year and we’re doing well with it. It’s been an adjustment but we’re hoping to see some breakthroughs in these upcoming games.”

          And some breakthroughs will need to happen rather quickly. The Lady Choctaws opened up regular season play this past weekend in Cleveland, TN. They open up conference play on Friday afternoon at home against West Alabama, who came in just behind MC at fifth in the preseason poll.

          The Lady Choctaws will host UAH two days after their game against West Alabama. Following the two-game homestand, MC will hit the road for four straight games, two of which will be against Lee and West Florida. There’s a lot of talented opponents in a short period of time, but Rodgers and the Lady Choctaw team aren’t too worried about it.

          “We’re doing well working together,” Rodgers said.

          The Lady Choctaws will play each member of the GSC once this season, ending the year with a three-game homestand against Montevallo and Auburn-Montgomery (who are new to the conference) as well as rival Delta State.

It is looking to be a good year for MC women’s soccer, and there is reason to believe that a GSC championship could be waiting at the end of the ride.

          “Oh yeah,” Rodgers said about MC having a shot at the championship. “That’s our goal. We’ll see as the season unfolds if that goal looks more obtainable than how we see it right now. That’s our goal and it’s looking like we’re going to have a good shot at it, so that’s very exciting.”

          So even though there may not be new bleachers out at Robert P. Longabaugh Field just yet, make sure to go out there and support your Lady Choctaws this season. Chances are they will make it worth your while. Not bad for a team starting their second year in the conference.

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