Quincy University women's soccer coach Dave Musso honestly believes had freshman forward Maddie Bauer and freshman Mary Maloney chosen to go to any other program they may have stepped in immediately as starters.
As it turned out, the Hawks had enough experience and depth to allow the talented freshmen to come off the bench.
Injuries have changed that, and Bauer, Maloney and the rest of QU's bench have handled the circumstances quite well.
The Hawks lost both junior foward Abby Pulliam and sophomore midfielder Alex Severino to season-ending knee injuries, but Bauer and Maloney have filled the void. The Hawks are 4-1 with Bauer in the starting lineup, while Maloney had the assists on the game-winning goals last weekend against both Southern Indiana and Bellarmine.
"We're continuing to build that chemistry on the field," Musso said. "It takes time. Those are impact players we lost. We have impact players stepping in."
Pulliam, a second-team All-Great Lakes Valley Conference selection as a sophomore and the league's Freshman of the Year in 2015, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during a 3-2 victory at Missouri S&T. She had three assists in six games and is scheduled to undergo surgery next week.
Severino suffered a torn ACL in her left knee in a 1-0 victory over nationally ranked McKendree. Throught 10 games, Severino had three goals and was part of glue in the midfield that allowed the Hawks to rise in the national rankings. She is scheduled to undergo surgery in two weeks.
"They'll be pushing each other during rehab," Musso said. "They'll return next year strong."
The No. 15 Hawks (10-2, 8-1 GLVC) carry a four-game winning streak into Friday night's game against Indianapolis at Legends Stadium. The Greyhounds are 4-0-1 on the road this season.
"What's great is we're adapting and adjusting while we're finding ways to win games," Musso said.
Smith making plays for Mules
When former Quincy High School all-state linebacker Deven Smith made his first trip home this fall, he planned to redshirt this season and retain four years of eligibility with the Central Missouri football program.
By the Mules‘ third game, that had changed. The UCM coaching staff pulled Smith's redshirt, allowing him to play as a true freshman. And he's already having an impact.
The Mules are 3-1 since Smith started playing, and he has three tackles and one quarterback hurry in limited action as a backup linebacker. However. facing No. 1-ranked Northwest Missouri State two weeks ago at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Smith made a huge play that gave the Mules a shot at the upset.
The Bearcats led 14-13 when they took possession with 2:21 remaining in the first half and needed just three plays to drive 51 yards to the Mules' 25-yard line. Northwest Missouri State's Chase White fumbled and Smith recovered, allowing Central Missouri to head to the locker room down by just a point.
Northwest Missouri State ultimately staved off the upset, scoring a touchdown with seven seconds left for a 24-20 victory.
Gengenbacher earns WCC honor
University of San Diego senior setter Kristen Gengenbacher, a Quincy Notre Dame graduate, was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Week after guiding the Toreros to a pair of victories.
Gengenbacher totaled 86 assists and 23 digs as San Diego beat Pacific 25-21, 30-28, 21-25, 21-25, 15-5 and Saint Mary's 25-17, 25-19, 25-18 on the road.
Against Pacific, Gengenbacher recorded a double-double with 52 assists and a season-high 18 digs. Against Saint Mary's, Gengenbacher had 34 assists and helped the Toreros post a .344 hitting percentage, their second highest percentage this season.
A three-year starter, Gengenbacher is averaging a career-high 11.16 assists per set, which ranks No. 1 in the WCC and No. 25 nationally. The Toreros rank in the top-10 in the nation in kills (14.69 per set) and assists (13.85 per set).
Miller, Bitzas sweep Heart ?honors
The Culver-Stockton College women's soccer team swept the Heart of America Athletic Conference's weekly honors as senior forward Leah Miller was named the Offensive Player of the Week and sophomore goalkeeper Kehley Bitzas was tabbed the Defensive Player of the Week.
Miller scored the game-winning goal in last Saturday's 2-1 victory over Baker. It was just the second time in school history the Wildcats knocked off the Tigers, and this was Baker's first Heart loss of the season. Miller has 10 goals this season and 24 in her career, which ranks fourth in school history.
Miller also had C-SC's goal in a 1-1 tie with Missouri Valley College.
Meanwhile, Bitzas had 13 saves in the two games, including six against Baker. The Greenville, Australia, native earned her second weekly conference honor and has five shutouts this season and 11 in her career.
The Wildcats are 5-1-1 in their last seven games and carry an 8-4-1 overall record and 4-2-1 Heart mark into back-to-back road games against No. 16 Benedictine and No. 10 Central Methodist.