Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Missouri Kicks Up from 0 to 3 in Division I Women's Teams

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Missouri Kicks Up from 0 to 3 in Division I Women's Teams

Article excerpt

This season, there were no NCAA Division I women's soccer programs in Missouri. Next season, there will be three. Women's soccer suddenly has become the state's latest growth industry.

When St. Louis University announced Thursday that it would field a varsity women's team next season, the Billikens joined the University of Missouri and Southwest Missouri State in the 1996 start-up derby.

For years, the St. Louis area's most talented female high school players have had to go out of state to compete on the Division I level.

For those who chose to remain at home, there were many lower-division options: Division II programs at Missouri-St. Louis and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville; Division III programs at Washington University, Fontbonne, Maryville and Principia; NAIA programs at Lindenwood, Missouri Baptist and Harris-Stowe; and junior-college programs at Florissant Valley, Meramec and Lewis and Clark.

But there was an obvious missing link in St. Louis' change of women's soccer. And other schools took advantage of it. National powers such as Southern Methodist, Indiana, Notre Dame and Wisconsin swooped in annually to pick off the cream of the high school crop. Now they may have some local competition.

"It's about time," said Mike Gauvain, coach of the J.B. Marine soccer club, which has won two girls national titles in the past five years. Missouri "has finally caught up and seen the light."

SIUE coach Brian Korbesmeyer also applauded the move, though he could be hurt in the recruiting battles.

"I think its great news," Korbesmeyer said. "We've needed a Division I team here. . . . This should help us keep our top-level players home."

Title IX and the gender-equity issue get most of the credit for the sudden boom in women's college soccer. Some have wondered if the recent demand for female soccer players has outstripped the supply. …

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