Big 12 Campus Correspondent
A starting spot for a major-college soccer team is an honor while being a freshman starter is a a bigger accomplishment.
Freshman Dominique Richardson, Missouri's starting center midfielder, qualifies on both counts and she's well aware of what it means.
"It's definitely a big honor to come to a winning program and be able to start," Richardson said. "I just have to keep working hard, stay humble and not get too comfortable with my starting position, because it's not guaranteed."
If she continues to play as she has at the start of this season, Richardson can breathe easy. Only five games in, she currently leads the team with 16 shots and two goals. Richardson was recently recognized by topdrawersoccer.com as one of the top 100 Freshman College Players to Watch.
Richardson traveled from her home state of California to play for Mizzou. While se admits to missing her family and the beach Missouri's success has removed the sting of homesickness sting
Women's soccer is the first Missouri program to win consecutive Big 12 Conference titles. That success and the continued rise of the program is attracting high-profile recruits like Richardson.
"[The championships] were a big factor in my decision," Richardson said. "I came to visit because of all the success that the team had by being Big 12 champions, and then when I got here I just loved everything about the great facilities and the entire athletics department."
This season's team is off to a slow start, winning just one of its first six matches. Richardson believes that a challenging nonconference schedule is the biggest explanation for the won-loss record but also a blessing in disguise.
"I think it has only helped us to play the top teams in the nation," she said. "We can only get better. It has just made us come out of regular season with a chip on our shoulder and ready to go out and compete at the highest level during conference."
A three-sport athlete in high school who also excelled in basketball and cross-country, Richardson is experienced in the dedication and effort it takes to compete and win at a high level.
"I just hope to grow and improve every year here," she said. "I just need to keep putting in the hard work it takes to compete at the college level."