COLUMBIA – Head Coach Clayton Melrose announced Tuesday the captains for the 2016 season.
Leading the Tigers this year will be four players, attackman Grant Pieper, defender Austin Savage, goalie Matt Needham and midfielder Kevin Boyle. The group consists of two juniors and two seniors, with three of the four previously holding the role of captain at Missouri. After a 2015 season in which the Tigers went 7-7 in the regular season, Coach Melrose decided to bring two captains back to position who did not wear the “C” last year, but in previous seasons. Both Pieper and Savage were captains in the 2014 season, during which Missouri placed first in the GRLC West after the regular season.
Pieper (Plano, TX, Plano Senior) will be captaining the team for the second time in his career. A 2015 GRLC second-team selection at attack, Pieper led the Tigers in points last season (31 goals, 14 assists) while taking charge of the team’s attack unit. In the classroom Pieper also excelled and was one of two returning Missouri players to qualify for the 2015 MCLA Scholar Athlete team. With 49 career goals and 26 assists, Pieper is on pace to break the 100-point mark, a feat not achieved by many in program history.
“I’m incredibly honored and happy to be a captain this year,” Pieper said. “I’m excited to lead the team and see what the season holds.”
Savage (Naperville, IL, Neuqua Valley) is returning as a captain for his second season at Mizzou. The 2013 GRLC honorable-mention defender has been a three-year starter for the program after attending Onondaga Community College in New York. At 6’6″ Savage is the tallest player on the Missouri roster and has been facing off against the opponents’ best attackman since his first game in the black and gold. After injuries forced Savage to only play in five games in 2015, the senior is looking to help lead the defense in 2016.
Needham (Northbrook, IL, Glenbrook North) is the only returning captain from the 2015 squad. A 2014 honorable-mention all-conference goalie, Needham posted 128 saves (59.8%) during his sophomore tenure with the program, helping Missouri to one of the lowest goal-against average in the GRLC. As a junior, Needham will direct a Tiger defense which has all six starting defenders returning from 2015.
“This team is filled from top to bottom with great players and leaders, so I’m honored to represent this team as a captain,” Needham said.
The final captain for Missouri is Kevin Boyle. A junior, Boyle (Wellesley, MA) will be counted on to help lead a young Tigers midfield in 2016. After attending UMASS for his freshman year, Boyle transferred to Missouri for his sophomore season and made an impact right away for the squad in 2015, splitting time on both first and second line midfield. Last season Boyle tallied the second-most points (eight) of any Tigers midfielder returning in 2016 and will be looking to improve on these numbers this season. Off the field, Boyle is Missouri’s Director of Recruiting and helped bring in one the largest and geographically-diverse freshman classes in program history.
“We’ve got a great group of guys this year, with a lot of freshmen in the mix,” said Boyle. “I am excited to see what this team can do, and I hope I can help lead this team to a successful season down the stretch.”
The Tigers’ first game of the regular season will be on Friday, February 12 at Missouri State, with a scheduled start time of 7:00 p.m.