Wright State senior Jordyne Helinski (22) during a game earlier this season vs. Oakland. PHOTO COURTESY OF WRIGHT STATE ATHLETICS

WSU Insider: Offensive production leading Raiders to turnaround season

“She can strike the ball with both feet. She’s quick. She’s strong. And she does some things, in the women’s game, that players won’t do. She’s not afraid to go at people,” Wright State coach Pat Ferguson said.

“In the women’s game, it’s a little more unusual to find a player who’s willing to risk losing a ball. In the men’s game, it’s easy because guys think they’re God’s gift to soccer. But for the women, when they pass the ball, they’re really passing the responsibility — where she’s willing to put the responsibility on her shoulders.”

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Helinski, who has missed two games with a leg injury, is second in the league in shots with 49 and is tied for fifth in points with 13 on four goals and five assists, and she’s triggered a resurgence on offense that has helped the Raiders climb to 10-3-2 overall and 5-2 and second place in the conference.

The senior forward has twice been named the league offensive player of the week. And while connecting just four times in 49 attempts wouldn’t fly in most sports, Ferguson believes that rate is misleading.

“Sometimes, players feel like they have to (practically) walk the ball into the goal. But we’re encouraging her to shoot from distance with the objective of drawing the defense out so she can have easier shots later in the game,” he said.

That may not be working out individually quite yet, but it’s given her teammates room to operate.

Junior Destiny Johnson leads the league with nine goals and 20 points, while junior Brittney Petrosky (a Vandalia Butler grad) is second on the team with five goals.

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“Destiny is probably the fastest player in the league. In a 30- or 40-yard foot race, nobody is going to catch her,” said Ferguson, whose team plays at IUPUI on Sunday before hosting Cleveland State in its regular-season finale at 7 p.m. Friday. “When you’ve got Jordyne and Destiny up there, that’s really a tough twosome to deal with.”

After scoring just 16 times while finishing 6-9-2 last season — and getting shut out in their final three matches — the Raiders have tallied 29 goals, second in the league. They’ve won five of their last six matches, reaching double-digit wins for only their second time since 2011.

Milwaukee leads the league at 7-0. The conference tourney starts Nov. 4, and Ferguson, who’s never won the title but has been runner-up three times, likes his team’s chances.

“There’s been years where Milwaukee was ranked in the top 10 in the country, and you just weren’t going to beat them. But they’re beatable,” he said. “I would say the league is better collectively than it’s been in the last four or five years. It’s definitely not a one-team show.”

He added: “We’re peaking and getting on a roll at the right time.”

MEN’S SOCCER: The Raiders are 6-5-2 overall, going 1-3-2 in their last six matches. They’re 2-3 in the conference after winning the regular-season crown last season.

They’ve scored 28 goals this season, second in the league. But after having to replace Dan Bent, the two-time conference defensive player of the year, they’ve given up 23, which is better than only two teams.

CROSS COUNTRY: Nathan Dunn set a program record for the men’s 8K (4.97 miles) at 24:20 while finishing fourth at the Bradley Classic last week. Shelby Nolan broke the record for the women’s 6K (3.73 miles) at 21:16 while also finishing fourth.

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