"Our goal is to be competitive and challenge for the KCAC title."

Mark Olson begins his first season as a collegiate head soccer coach as the McPherson Bulldog's women's soccer team kicks off their season on Saturday. Olson was an assistant coach under Doug Quint, who coached both the men and the women, the past two seasons until Mac decided to have a head coach for each and Olson was tabbed to lead the women.

The Bulldogs, who were picked to finish fifth in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference preseason poll of coaches, returns eight letterman and five starters from last year's team. Seniors Danielle Kakebeen and Ana Guerrero return at forward with senior Rhea Vale coming back at center back. Two sophomore starters return as well, with Emma Von Donselaar at outside back and Dina Der Varanian at midfield.

Mixed with that experience are several newcomers expected to make a serious contribution including freshman goalkeeper Christie Silber, junior center back Adriana Reyes, junior midfielder Juliana Munoz and senior outside back Lacy Fry.

"Our goal is to be competitive and challenge for the KCAC title," said Olson. "I feel we have a great group of players returning and with the additions to this year's team we are capable of competing at a high level. Ottawa University and Kansas Wesleyan always seem to be at the top of the conference so in order to meet our goal in winning the KCAC we have to beat those teams."

McPherson was 10-6-1 overall last year and 6-5 in conference play. They open up play this weekend in Denver, Colorado at the JWU Denver Kickoff Classic. Saturday they take on Saint Thomas University(Fla.) and Monday they play Johnson & Wales University(Colo.). Their home opener is Sept. 2 against Avila University at The Kennel with a 1 p.m. start.

Contact Matt Cole by email at mcole@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow him on Twitter @MacSentinel.