QUINCY -- The first glimpse of the Quincy University women's soccer team offered just enough to pique fans' interest.
The hope is they will be patient enough to wait a month for a second glance.
Changes to the Great Lakes Valley Conference schedule late in the spring means the Hawks won't play their home opener until Sept. 27 against Bellarmine. So Tuesday night's 4-1 exhibition victory against Culver-Stockton College at Legends was the only chance to gauge how competitive Quincy might be.
The Hawks believe they will be extremely competitive, and they point to the strides made in the two exhibitions they've played. And they haven't even been back on campus a week yet.
"One of the big things is our team chemistry, and we're so excited about it," senior midfielder Alex Severino said. "After we got accustomed to each other, you could tell we realized, ‘Oh, this is good.' We're all on the same page. You can see it transforming on the field as the preseason has gone on."
The Hawks lost their exhibition opener last Friday, falling 2-0 at Western Illinois University. It served as a good baseline, and second-year QU coach Marc Hager sees value in being tested immediately.
"With this group, we've talked about getting better each day," said Hager, whose team opens the season Sept. 6 against Davenport in Grand Rapids, Mich., and plays its first five games on the road. "After the loss to WIU, we had plenty of areas to improve on, and I think we improved on all of them. Obviously, they're listening. Obviously, it's a step in the right direction."
That's especially true offensively.
Junior forward Maddie Bauer and sophomore midfielder Baylee Smith both scored in the half, while two freshmen -- Sophia Bonaldi and Lexi Porchia -- finished in the second half.
"Attacking-wise, things really improved," Severino said.
It comes with the freshmen's comfortability.
"Friday, you could tell the confidence was missing," Severino said. "This game, the confidence was showing through and the kind of players that they are showed, too. They are finally comfortable in their own skin, and they are just playing."
C-SC coach Tyler Tomlinson is getting that from his offense, while an inexperienced defense is steadily making progress ahead of next Monday's season opener against Waldorf.
"When we attack, we attack pretty," Tomlinson said. "That's a change we're not used to. The other thing we're not used to is giving up goals. We've built our program's success on defense, and this year it's not our strength. We're in rebuilding mode with our center backs.
"To figure that out is going to be one of this season's challenges."