While most fans know senior Alyssa Diggs as the team’s star player, by season’s end a few more Tigers could find their names in the conversation if they can build upon successful performances.
Take sophomore Lauren Flynn, for example. Flynn is best known for her game-winning heroics last season as she scored her lone goal in MU’s win over Ole Miss as well as her assist against Illinois in the NCAA tournament. On top of both performances, Tigers coach Bryan Blitz named Flynn the most improved player at last spring’s banquet, which came as a great surprise, she said.
“It definitely boosted my confidence,” she said of the honor. “I mean, you have to keep working from that so that’s a huge standard from last year that I raised.”
Despite her newly raised standards, Flynn understands that Blitz’s needs will always take priority over any personal goal.
“Sometimes they need me to be a great defender to help preserve a shutout and other times they send me up so I can try and score,” Flynn explained. “I just take it game by game so it I don’t overthink it.”
Sophomore defender Candace Johnson is another Tiger who has the potential to take a step forward this season. One of the only regular freshman starters last season, Johnson was named to the all-Southeastern Conference freshmen team and is one of the Tigers' key returning starters.
Johnson believes the key to the Tigers' defense is their strong communication on the field.
“If we’re not talking we’re lost as a team out there so that’s one thing we will definitely look to build on this year whether it’s working on our cover or making sure we’re all ready to go,” Johnson said.
Finally, freshman Melanie Donaldson has the potential to make an early impact on the team the same way Johnson performed her first year. Donaldson was one of two freshmen to start Saturday’s exhibition game against Southern Methodist and impressed as she helped set up the Tigers second goal with a magnificent through ball.
“All the freshman played strong, you can tell there was no change in energy between substitutions,” Flynn said of the underclassmen’s performance.