QUINCY -- Two years ago, the Quincy University women's soccer roster featured just five players recruited outside St. Louis and its surrounding Missouri suburbs.
That number now has doubled.
Second-year coach Marc Hager's first full recruiting class features players from the Chicagoland area, Belleville, Ill., and Australia along with a handful of St. Louis products. It's changed the Hawks' chemistry but not expectations for a program coming off a top-four finish in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
"I think he got a good mix of players," senior defender Mo Rooney said. "They are always going to find players from St. Louis because it's right there and there is so much talent, but he has a good mix that balances out the way we play in St. Louis and the way other cities play.
"In a few years, once they figure out how to play together, that group is going to be an important piece of this program."
It might not take that long. The freshmen are pushing for playing time immediately and create depth for a team that graduated several key pieces, including All-GLVC forward Abbie Pulliam.
"I learned the talent coming in is really going to help us this year and I don't think we could do everything we're capable of doing this year without the incoming talent," said sophomore forward Lauren Crane, who was the GLVC Co-Freshman of the Year last fall after scoring seven goals with four assists.
"We've been working on a lot of team chemistry and figuring out each other's style of play. We need to know where we expect someone to make a run or where they want the ball. Little things like that are going to help us during games."
Crane will be one of the targets the Hawks need to help replace Pulliam, who had six goals and five assists last season and finished her career with 24 goals and 13 assists.
Junior forward Maddie Bauer, a second-team All-GLVC selection last season along with Crane, is expected to be the other top target. Bauer has seven goals and 10 assists in her first two seasons.
There will be plenty of others contributing to the attack.
"I would say we're relentless," senior midfielder Alex Severino said.
That's especially true defensively where Severino in the middle and Rooney in the back anchor a group capable of shutting down opponents.
The Hawks were second in the GLVC last season, allowing 0.89 goals per game with nine shutouts.
"Now that we do know what we are doing we can build off the things we accomplished last year," Rooney said. "With (Hager) being new, he had a new idea of what the program was going to look like. Now that we have that vision in our brains, we can keep building off that."
There's nothing new this season to use as an excuse.
"Last year, we would always say, ‘Oh, it's just growing pains and we're getting used to each other,'" Severino said. "Now we know what to expect and can pass the knowledge on to the new girls. It's easier because it's not all of us being blind-sided by new things. We know what to expect."
The expectation is to be competing for an NCAA Tournament bid.
"We're a hard-working group," Rooney said. "Even if things don't go our way, you're always going to get our effort. That's something (Hager) takes pride in, that we always show up and give our effort.
"I don't think anyone is going to work as hard as us."
Inside the program
Who: Quincy University women's soccer
2018 record: 10-6-2 (8-3-2 Great Lakes Valley Conference).
Coach: Marc Hager (10-6-2 at QU, second season).
Players to watch: F Maddie Bauer, Jr.; F Lauren Crane, Soph.; MF Alex Severino, Sr.; MF Baylee Smith, Sr.; D Mo Rooney, Sr.; D Sydney Gorman, Jr.
Schedule: Sept. 6 at Davenport; Sept. 8 at Ferris State; Sept. 15 at Truman State; Sept. 20 at William Jewell; Spet. 22 at Rockhurst; Sept. 27 vs. Bellarmine; Sept. 29 vs. Indianapolis; Oct. 4 at Illinois-Springfield; Oct. 6 at Lewis; Oct. 11 vs. Southwest Baptist; Oct. 13 vs. Drury; Oct. 18 at Maryville; Oct. 20 at Missouri S&T; Oct. 25 vs. McKendree; Oct. 27 vs. Southern Indiana; Nov. 1 vs. Lindenwood; Nov. 3 vs. Missouri-St. Louis.