The two-time defending Big 12 Champion Missouri soccer team might have a new star in the making.
Freshman forward Danielle Nottingham got off to a quick start with two goals in the Tigers' opening scrimmage against Illinois on Aug. 20. She had an assist and two shots on goal in the first three official games this season as well.
Nottingham scored off an assist by junior midfielder Kelsey Blincow in the 13th minute against the Fighting Illini to give Missouri a 1-0 lead. Illinois tied the game before halftime, but Nottingham gave the Tigers back the lead with an unassisted early-second half goal. The game ended in a 2-2 tie, but Illinois never led.
"It felt really good to get those goals," Nottingham said about the scrimmage. "You always dream of starting your first game with a goal, and I got two. That was our first game as a team, and we got to see what we could really do."
Nottingham's teammates have been impressed with her early performance.
"It's hard to come out and start as a freshman here and to do that, let alone, is exciting," Senior Captain and Midfielder Krista Kruse said. "I'm exited for her."
Kruse scored only one goal in her entire freshman season.
Despite the early success, Nottingham is still going through the same ups and downs as other freshmen across the country.
"It's been a lot different because this is a different style of play," Nottingham said. "It's different with new positioning and what they expect from me. It's still kind of the same as high school, when you're a freshman you have to prove yourself. You have to go after it."
Nottingham, a Frisco, Texas native, attended Hebron High School, where she ran cross-country and track and played soccer. Nottingham played club soccer for Sting 92, and her club attended the Texas State Cup five times, winning the Regional Title in 2008.
Missouri coach Brian Blitz has been most impressed with Nottingham's determination, but said she still has plenty of work ahead of her.
"She is super talented and she has a great work ethic," said Blitz. "She is still learning the system, and freshmen are going to make mistakes. I think it's just a time issue, but so far she is doing well and helping the group."
Blitz also said she believes Nottingham has the potential to be a big-time player down the line.
"She certainly has potential to be one of the better attackers that we've had," Blitz said. "She has a great work ethic, and I think that is what is going to make her special."
Nottingham will not be backing down from such expectations.
"I plan on staying all four years," Nottingham said. "I just hope I make a big impact and help the team wherever I can."
Nottingham will have a chance to make a big impact this weekend when the Tigers play on the road at DePaul and Northwestern. She will get a chance to impress the home crowd the following weekends when the Tigers host Arkansas and Loyola.