Spence returns to lead MSU women's soccer

Ryan Spence (15) was an All America player and Graduate Assistant for the MSU men's soccer team / Source: KAUZ
Ryan Spence (15) was an All America player and Graduate Assistant for the MSU men's soccer team / Source: KAUZ

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Midwestern State welcomes home former standout Ryan Spence as he becomes the program's fifth women's soccer as announced Thursday morning.

"Ryan brings a real love for the game of soccer as well as a great relationship with Midwestern State University," MSU Director of Athletics Kyle Williams said. "Ryan was not only an outstanding soccer player, but a true leader on and off the field. His approach to what it takes to win in the Lone Star Conference is invaluable. We welcome Ryan and wife Haylee back to campus and look forward to the continued success of our women's soccer program both on the field and certainly in the classroom."

In his first season as a head coach, Spence led Eastern New Mexico to a strong finish in 2017 which included a pair of victories over his alma mater including a regular season 2-1 win and 4-0 shutout in the opening round of the Lone Star Conference Postseason Tournament.

"Having the chance to come back to a place that is so close to me is a blessing," Spence said. "I've spent eight years of my life in Wichita Falls and am grateful to have this opportunity to coach at my alma mater. I met my wife here so this is a special place for me. I truly believe Midwestern State is set up to explode on the national stage with women's soccer."

Spence enjoyed a storybook playing career as a three-time All American from 2008-11. He helped the Mustangs amass a 64-10-6 record advancing to the NCAA Division II playoffs in each of his four seasons on the field. MSU reached the Final Four in 2010 following a run to the national quarterfinals in 2008.

His play at center back proved key in aiding the Mustangs to top five national showing in each of his three seasons as a starter. Midwestern held the opposition to goals against averages of 0.43, 0.58 and 0.54 with 35 shutouts during the run.

Spence also competed in the Premiere Development League (PDL) with the DFW Tornados, St. Louis Lions and Springfield Synergy before starting his coaching career as a graduate assistant under his mentor Doug Elder for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

He helped the Mustangs to two more NCAA tournament appearances before earning his Masters of Education in Sports Administration from MSU in 2016.

Spence served the 2016 season assisting for the men's and women's programs for Claudio Arias at Texas A&M International.

He posted a 5-9-6 mark in his first season as a head coach last fall at Eastern New Mexico.

"(ENMU Athletic Director) Greg Waggoner gave me an awesome opportunity to begin my head coaching career and will always be indebted to what I've learned under him," Spence said. "Being able to coach next to Doug Elder is an obvious advantage and I thank him and Michael Meachum for guiding me through my early coaching career. Also, Claudio Arias taught me the details of soccer that allowed me to see the game of soccer in a different light. Without these guys, I would not have had this chance."

Midwestern State advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs in each of the last two seasons under the direction of Damian Clarke, who posted a 40-27-13 mark in four seasons in Wichita Falls. Clarke departed to accept the head women's soccer coaching position at Fort Lewis College earlier this spring.

Brennan still hanging in at NCAA Championship

Midwestern State's Emily Brennan did just about everything right in the second round of the NCAA Division II Championships Thursday at Bay Oaks Country Club.

But a balky putter and an occasional draw or slice pushed her score to a 6-over 78 as she slipped into a tie for 34th with a two-round total of 152 (+8).

"I can't explain how mentally draining it is," Brennan said. "It's so hard not having any putts falling. It happens though, it's golf. You can hit everything just right and you can be just a few centimeters off and it hurts your round."

Her stats told the tale as she hit 10 of 14 fairways and reached nine greens in regulation while taking 31 putts.

"She is right on the verge of playing really good golf," MSU coach Jeff Ray said. "I think if she would knock in a few putts, then she would get her confidence going. She's the type of player with her talent level that she can finish under par on this course. I think she believes that, too."

Brennan posted her lone birdie of the day on the par-4, 280-yard second hole, but four of her six bogeys came on par-4s including a double when her shot found water on the 381-yard 18th hole.

"There is water or trees on every hole," Ray said. "You have to be on your game especially off the tee box. This is quite a bit a first shot golf course. It will definitely penalize you for a bad shot."

Indianapolis' Kylie Raines tops the individual leader board with a 3-under total of 141 which is good for a one-stroke lead over teammates Katharina Keilich and Paxton DeHaven.

The Greyhounds (286-287) combined for a two-round team total of 573 (-3) to lead the race for the team title by 15 strokes over Nova Southeastern (296-292).

"I just need to play the shot like I am hitting it and get a few putts to drop," Brennan said.

The 72-hole tournament concludes with single rounds on Friday and Saturday.

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