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The Crimson Hawks are just days away from their first matchup against West Virginia Wesleyan.

This is a very exciting week for the IUP women’s soccer program. After almost two full years of not playing a game due to COVID-19, the Crimson Hawks will be back on the field.

The team will play the West Virginia Wesleyan College Bobcats in a non-conference matchup. The game will take place at South Campus Field on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Wesleyan will face Slippery Rock on Thursday afternoon, three days prior to traveling to IUP.

The opponent head coach, Adel Heder shared some thoughts on the Bobcats.

“Wesleyan always has a good soccer program,” Heder said.

As Sunday afternoon quickly approaches, the Crimson Hawks are continuing to prepare and sharpen their skills.

Heder elaborates on what he is looking for out of his team in game one.

“I'm looking forward to my team, a young team, working hard in this first game,” Heder said, “trying to fit the players in the right positions and hopefully we show a good game and build pace, confidence and motivation for the season.”

Considering this is a non-conference game against an out-of-state team, let us take a deeper look at the Crimson Hawks’ first opponent.

The Bobcats play in the Mountain East Conference (MEC). Their 2020 fall season, like IUP, was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. The big difference is that the MEC elected to play a spring 2021 season to make up for its cancelled fall 2020 season.

This past spring, Wesleyan went 4-3-2 overall including a first round exit loss to Notre Dame from Ohio in the MEC tournament. Just a few months later, the team now returns to the field to play IUP.

They are led by head coach Richard Owens, who is entering his fourth year at the helm.

Wesleyan will have to look to others for leadership. As Team captain Kayla Fay graduated in the spring. Fay led the team in minutes played and game winning goals last season.

The Bobcats have an even balance of freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors comprising their roster. The team is also returning some notable players.

Defender Lauran Baumgartner is back. She logged over 816 minutes in nine games last season and has also been named to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) 2021 Academic All-District team.

Starting goaltender Ally Moore is also returning. Moore started in all nine games last season as a freshman and was named to the MEC All-Freshman team.

Many seniors return for their final season and bring experience. The following players started all nine games this past spring for Wesleyan.

Those returning starters for the Bobcats include defenseman Jadyn Tavekellan, forward Makatly Tucker and defenseman Natalie Pireu.

The makeup of the Bobcats’ roster points to this being an interesting and entertaining game.

The young and talented women’s Crimson Hawks soccer team, led by Heder, is ready for the matchup and excited to begin its season.

Sunday 2 p.m. at South Campus Field is shaping up to be an exciting afternoon.

The campus and community are ready for the return of women’s soccer and will be rooting for their team as they open the 2021 season of play with lots of talent.

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