Kaitlin Maxwell punts

Kaitlin Maxwell punts the ball against St. Louis.

The Missouri State women’s soccer Bears are 6-2-1 as they get ready to start Missouri Valley Conference play.

Those six wins are only two short of the Bears’ 2018 win totals when they went 8-9-2.

The Bears split games last week, losing 1-0 to St. Louis University on Wednesday, Sept. 18, and beating the University of Nebraska Omaha 1-0 on Saturday, Sept. 21.

While the Bears have been outshot on the season 95-59, junior goalkeeper Kaitlin Maxwell has continued to stop shots.

She has a goals against average under one and a save percentage of .825 through nine games.

“(Maxwell) is doing great,” Bears head coach Rob Brewer said. “She was great last year too. She was goalkeeper of the year in the conference. I don’t know how you leave her off of the preseason (all-conference) vote, but we’ll just add that to the chip on our shoulder.”

The Bears’ offense has been led by a new face: freshman forward Unnur Bergsdottir from Reykjavik, Iceland.

She has a team-leading three goals in nine games and was named MVC newcomer of the week on Monday, Sept. 17.

She said she is pleasantly surprised by her quick start.

“I’ve definitely been better than I thought I would be,” Bergsdottir said. “The process since I’ve gotten here has been good. The first two weeks — they were hard, but it’s been better since.”

The Bears begin MVC play on Saturday, Sept. 28, against Valparaiso at home. The Crusaders are 0-8-1.

Brewer said that conference play has a different feel to it than the other part of the season.

“When you get to that part of the season, the nonconference records go out the window,” Brewer said. “You’re fighting for a new season.”

Of the eight MVC women’s soccer teams, four, including the Bears, have a nonconference record of .500 or higher.

The other three are Loyola Chicago at 5-4-1, Northern Iowa at 4-4 and Illinois State at 6-4.

The Bears play at Loyola on Oct. 12, at home against Northern Iowa on Oct. 19 and at home against Illinois State on Oct. 25.

Brewer said he thinks Illinois State and Loyola will be contenders for the MVC championship.

To play in the MVC tournament, which is being held in Springfield this year, the Bears must place in the top six in conference play.

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