After an eventful offseason that brought two head coaching changes, the Washburn women’s soccer team returned to practice this week ready to usher in a new era.
The program is entering its first year under Davy Phillips, who joined the Ichabods after three seasons as Baker’s women’s soccer coach.
“They have been so fantastic,” Phillips said of WU players adjusting to the transition. “They’re so eager to get going and they’ve done everything I’ve asked. They’ve been more than willing to help out. I think they’ve handled this change extraordinarily. You can tell they kind of rely on each other and they’ve done that throughout the coaching changes.”
After Chris Jones resigned at the end of last season to become a Division I assistant, WU’s head coaching vacancy was initially filled by Jamie Hutchison, who was was dismissed by Washburn in May without coaching a game for the Ichabods.
Phillips was then named head coach on July 10 after compiling a 44-14-6 record at Baker and guiding the Wildcats to an NAIA national semifinal appearance in 2016.
“I think we were all ready to move on from the spring and just get a new coach with a lot of experience,” WU senior goalkeeper Kaitlin Minnich said. “I think we’re ready to really have a good year.
“(Phillips is) really professional. He knows a lot about the game. I think he’s just a perfect fit for our program.”
Washburn, which went 9-9-1 overall and 5-6 in the MIAA last season, has seven seniors on its roster, including All-MIAA picks Minnich, midfielder Morgan El-Attrache and forward Emily Stauffer. El-Attrache had a team-high four goals last year with three assists, while Stauffer had three goals.
“I think it’s going to help having some seniors that have some experience and have played a lot of minutes,” Phillips said.
Phillips has been watching game film from last season to assess strengths and weaknesses of the Ichabods. WU scored 19 goals last season while allowing 22.
“There’s pretty good defensive organization,” Phillips said. “Philosophically, I’m going to move that up and put higher pressure up the field, instead of closer to the goal and protecting our area a bit. For areas of improvement, we need a clearer vision of how to go to Point A to Point B in terms of the possession and what we’re trying to do and getting numbers to the final third of the attack and trying to create some more goal-scoring opportunities.”
The Ichabods will play their first two games at home, facing Upper Iowa at 5:45 p.m. Aug. 31 before taking on Southwest Minnesota State at 11 a.m. Sept. 2.
“Having our first two games here, I think, will help,” Phillips said. “With the nerves of starting over at a new program and everything, it’s always good to be at home where the girls are used to, and obviously I’ll have a higher comfort level here than I would somewhere else.”