A berth in the Mountain West Conference Championships may be in the cards for the Horned Frogs soccer team, said head coach Dan Abdalla.The final conference match against the San Diego State Aztecs will be one of two factors determining a placement in the tournament.
“We need to win and we need Air Force to beat the University of New Mexico,” Abdalla said. “(We) need to win our game and put some goals in the back of the net.”
Conference play for the Frogs up until now has kept the team winless but three overtime ties keep the Frogs in contention.
Freshman striker and leading scorer Lizzy Karoly said, “We’ve been struggling with getting the last-minute goals this season.”
The team has been practicing on finishing its offensive attacks during the past week of training, Karoly said.
“We’ve done a ton of offensive drills on making our runs in the final third of the field sharp,” she said. “We also have been practicing finishing (plays) both yesterday and today.”
Defensively, the team will be working to keep the Aztec’s high-powered offense at bay.
“They are as offensively talented as any team we have played so far,” Abdalla said.
The strategy of the Aztecs is to send a few extra players forward in hopes of overpowering the defense with numbers, Abdalla said.
“They will most likely run a 4-3-3 or a 3-4-3 formation,” Abdalla said.
This means San Diego State will use an extra forward with a more offensive-minded attack pattern.
Senior defender Breanne Kaldheim said the Frogs’ defense is ready for the touted San Diego State offense.
“If we stay tight when we are going forward and keep our formation together in the back line, we should be all right,” Kaldheim said.
The Frogs will run the same balanced formation they have used all season, Kaldheim said.
“We will most likely be using a 4-4-2, and if we change at all we would use a 4-5-1,” she said.
This formation is aimed at giving the Frogs more players in the defensive backfield and the midfield to help build a stronger counter attack, Kaldheim said.
“The defense has done well at giving us a chance this season,” Abdalla said. “It has been frustrating when the goals we have given up are late in games.”
Saturday will mark the first home match for the Frogs since Oct. 13 against the Wyoming Cowgirls.
During the past three road matches, the Frogs lost to the UNLV Rebels and the Utah Utes and fought to a 0-0 draw with the Air Force Falcons.
The return home will be seniors night at Garvey-Rosenthal Stadium and also the final home game of the season.
“The weather is going to be nice, the field will be nice,” Abdalla said. “We know what we need to do to put ourselves in a position to get through.