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A look ahead for nine Fighting Scots fall sports teams

Easton Schaber is shown returning a punt 61 yards during last year's Bronze Turkey Game in Galesburg. This year's home game vs. Knox on Nov. 4 will be part of Homecoming weekend.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – Nine Fighting Scots athletic teams are preparing for the fall sports season at Monmouth College.

Here’s a quick look at what to expect on the fields of play this fall. More information is on the College’s athletic website.

FOOTBALL: What will coach Chad Braun’s team do for an encore? Last year, the Scots posted a perfect 10-0 regular season record and reached the NCAA playoffs, where they lost a 21-14 heartbreaker at Coe (Iowa) College. There will be many familiar faces on this year’s squad, which has its sights set on playing in the MWC championship game Nov. 11. An exception is the QB position, where three players are battling to be the new starter.

First home competition: Sept. 2 at Zorn Stadium vs. Hope College (Homecoming is Nov. 4 vs. Knox College)

Season preview

WOMEN’S GOLF: The Scots dazzled on the third and final day of the MWC Championships last fall, and their score of 337 propelled them to a second-place finish. Two seniors are gone from that squad, but coach Ashley Sims believes her nucleus of talented returners – including all-conference performer Haley Hoekstra  – and promising newcomers can make scores in the 337 range a regular occurrence.

First home competition: Aug. 27 at Gibson Woods

Season preview

MEN’S CROSS COUNTRY: The Scots ran a near-perfect team race at last year’s MWC Championships, surprising the rest of the league with a second-place finish. All-conference runners Cooper Pauley, Tate Heiple and Bryent Van De Wostine return for coach Jon Welty, whose squad has been predicted to place third in the league. The Scots open the season Sept. 1 at Illinois Wesleyan University.

WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY: Two runners with All-MWC credentials make up part of coach Jon Welty’s 13-member roster. Caitlyn Allen ran to an all-conference finish in 2015, and Joanna Podosek – also an outstanding middle distance performer for the track team – accomplished the feat last fall, when the Scots placed fifth at the league meet.

WOMEN’S SOCCER: A talented crop of recruits has second-year coach Nick Rizzo optimistic that the Scots can reach the MWC playoffs for the first time since 2013. The 13 newcomers join a nucleus that includes all-conference forward Kara-Jade Gordon (11 goals) and returning senior starters Nicole Neagle and Alexandra Izquierdo.

First home competition: Sept. 1 at Peacock Park vs. Rockford University

MEN’S SOCCER: In two of the past three seasons, coach Kooten Johnson’s squad has come oh-so-close to qualifying for the MWC playoffs. The Scots are looking to kick the door down this season with an experienced squad that features 13 players who saw action in 10 games or more last year. Among them are leading goalscorers Justin Seeley, Martin Zafirov and Augustin Miranda.

First home competition: Sept. 10 at Peacock Park vs. University of Dubuque

VOLLEYBALL: Every coach likes to have returning statistical leaders from a prior season, and coach Kari Shimmin will have that luxury for years to come. The 2016 Scots were paced by a group of freshmen and sophomores, including Becca Dabrowski (194 kills), Lauren Sperry (46 total blocks), Laura Dulee (660 assists, 35 aces) and Carly Bergerhouse (304 digs). Shimmin’s recruiting class boasts four 6-footers.

First home competition: Sept. 1 at Glennie Gym vs. Lincoln Christian University

WOMEN’S TENNIS: Kat Hinman, who led the Scots in singles wins a year ago, returns for her senior season and will hold down the No. 1 slot in both singles and doubles, where she’ll be joined by talented freshman Emma Johanns. Coach Brian Jordan believes the year of experience his squad gained in 2016 will pay dividends this fall and help the Scots reverse some of their outcomes from a year ago.

First home competition: Sept. 16 at MC Tennis Stadium vs. Grinnell College and Cornell College

Season preview

MEN’S WATER POLO: A year ago, the Scots finished 3-12, but that record is a bit misleading, as the team lost seven of those matches by four goals or less. Double-digit goalscorers Brendan Atwood and Riley Hess return for coach Peter Ollis, who is entering his third season in charge of the program. Monmouth’s first nine matches are on the road, starting Sept. 16 at McKendree University.