It seems MIAA soccer coaches see Missouri Western as a program on the ascent.
In the preseason poll of conference coaches, the Griffons jumped from their 2015 sixth-place finish into the fifth slot. The list was released Thursday.
Western landed behind defending champion Central Missouri (No. 1), No. 2 Central Oklahoma, No. 3 Northeastern State and No. 4 Fort Hays State.
Last season, the Griffons went 9-8-1 overall, the program’s first winning season.
In the past two years, coach Chad Edwards has led the program to back-to-back appearances in the MIAA tournament, which are the program’s only postseason berths.
More than 30 team and individual records have fallen the past two seasons and defense has become a staple.
The team finished second in the MIAA last season in that area, allowing just 0.83 goals per game. Conference champion Central Missouri was the only team all season to score multiple goals in a game against the Griffons.
Northwest Missouri State, coming off a 4-10-3 season in 2015 was slated for a 12th-place finish in the poll.