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After narrowly losing to Angelo State 1-0 to the semifinal round in 2018, the TWU soccer team was anxious to return to the pitch and begin its quest for their first-ever Lone Star Conference Championship.

On Sunday, the Pioneers scored two goals in the first 15 minutes en route to an impressive 5-0 victory over East Central in the 2019 season opener.

“I think it was really good to see us score that much in our first game, as well as getting a shutout,” TWU coach Babak Abouzar said. “We know those types of goals aren’t going to come every game, but it’s definitely a good foundation to build off of as we move forward.”

Haley Ward and Jaycee Fuller each scored two goals for the Pioneers. Ward picked up right where she left off from last year’s record-breaking sophomore campaign. Ward set the program record for most goals, shots and shots on goal for a single season. She also led the Pioneers with 11 goals in 2018.

“Haley is a huge asset for us,” Abouzar said. “She’s going to have a target on her back because of her ability to finish in front of goal and how dangerous she is with her feet. Teams will recognize her this season, but that’s OK because it will open up room for Jaycee and Hannah Schneider to slide in there and contribute on the offensive side for us.”

Fuller also impressed in her collegiate debut for the Pioneers. The Simi Valley, California, native scored two goals and assisted on Ward’s first score.

The Pioneers will host Rogers State on Thursday at 5 p.m. before hitting the road to take on Oklahoma Baptist on Saturday at 3 p.m.

Volleyball: Young talent to lead Pioneers in 2019

Heading into the 2019 season, TWU volleyball coach Jeff Huebner raved about the balance of this year’s Pioneer team.

The Pioneers return nine from last year’s team to go along with a combination of young offensive talent. Two of those hitters, freshman Addison Mulroney and sophomore Trixie Oche, led TWU to two wins last weekend in the Washburn Invitational.

TWU started the tournament off with a victory over Quincy before dropping two matches to Washburn and Drury. The Pioneers responded with a thrilling five-set victory over William Jewell to conclude tournament play and finish 2-2 on the weekend.

“I think 2-2 was what we were supposed to do,” Huebner said. “I think that Drury match is one we’d like to have back. Overall, I’m really pleased with what we look like. We look long and physical and athletic. We look more ready to compete for a Lone Star Championship than we have in my three years here, so I’m excited about that.”

Mulroney led the team with 39 kills in her first collegiate tournament, while Oche added another 32 kills to begin her second season. Redshirt freshman Bailey Wozniak also made her debut at setter and finished with a team-high 66 assists.

“Our athleticism in really found in our younger athletes,” Huebner said. “They’re just starting to scratch the surface with what they can do in matches, and they’re only going to get better with more game experience. I’m really excited about this weekend to see what they can do.”

Huebner said a key part of the success last weekend comes from the leadership of TWU’s six seniors. Senior Katy Ranes enters this year with high expectations after an All-American 2018 season and was selected as a captain for the third straight season.

The Pioneers will make their home debut Friday against Henderson State in the opening game of the second annual Pioneer Invitational at Kitty Magee Arena. TWU will also play some stiff competition this weekend with Harding, Oklahoma Baptist and Sioux Falls on the schedule.

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