Missouri Valley Conference coaches picked the UE women’s soccer team last in their preseason poll, and coach Krista McKendree’s Aces seemed poised to finish there.
Following a 1-6-0 start, UE somehow did just the opposite.
With Drake’s loss to Illinois State on Thursday, McKendree’s team iced a MVC regular-season championship, the first league title for UE in any sport since women’s basketball took the 2009 conference tournament, also with a sub-.500 overall record.
The soccer Aces are 5-7-3 overall, but they went 4-1-1 in league play to trump Drake’s 3-1-2 mark and secure the No. 1 seed in the MVC tournament.
UE finished its regular season on a 4-1-3 run, all with freshman goalkeeper Simone Busby defending the net. Senior Chaviel Harrison, the program’s all-time leader in saves, started the Aces’ first seven matches.
Other freshmen led the team in scoring. Abby Springer notched five goals and Kayla Smith four. Junior Stephanie Thompson also chipped in four.
Drake had to win Thursday based upon the points system that awards three for a win and one for a draw. A Drake-Illinois State tie would have left UE with 13 points and Drake with 12.
With its bye, UE automatically advances to the MVC tournament semifinals.