Although soccer season ended in October, offseason training for the soccer team is helping to build for next season.For the last seven weeks, the team has worked to gain an edge by building a competitive mindset, something that it has gotten closer to in the final weeks of practice, head soccer coach Dan Abdalla said.
A team’s on-field persona has a lot to do with its success, Abdalla said.
“I think right now, we’re finishing at our best, which is a great gauge,” Abdalla said. “If we could be playing our best in November, like we are right now, we’ll be in great shape.”
Freshman forward Lizzy Karoly said Abdalla’s goal is reflected in the momentum of practices.
“Our practices have been really intense,” Karoly said. “We are doing a lot of strength and conditioning to make us specifically stronger and to push ourselves to the limit and past what we thought we were.”
Karoly was the lead scorer during the 2006 season when she netted six goals and she earned Top Drawer Soccer’s third-team All-Rookie accolades during her rookie campaign.
The incoming freshmen are offensive aggressors who will increase the tempo of the games, Abdalla said.
Last season’s core of freshmen contributed to 11 of the 19 goals scored and five of the nine total assists.
“I think you’ll see kids that aren’t shy and that are willing to go out there and take control and be the point guard or quarterback of our team,” Abdalla said. “They will make those that we already have better.”
With 11 recruits coming in that can play positions on all parts of the field, senior midfielder Angie Nickens said she foresees an aura of competitiveness that was not present in years past.
“It’s going to be great for the returning players,” Nickens said. “It will be motivation to play harder, and it will make the team better because everyone’s going to be playing at a higher level.”
The range of weather throughout the spring practices may work to the team’s advantage when the season starts in August.
“This spring has just been rain, sleet and snow,” Abdalla said. “That’s good because when we get up to Provo, Utah, in November, we want the kids to be used to that.”
Some losses from the 2006 squad include goalkeeper Katy Buchanan and co-captains Breanne Kaldheim and Karissa Hill. Even though Buchanan will not return in 2007, freshman Kelsey Vross will be returning to get some minutes in the net. Last season Vross notched a shutout against the UTSA Roadrunners in her first start at home.