Gator women's soccer veterans expected to impress this season

Last year the SF State women’s soccer team finished with an 11-5-5 record, a California Collegiate Athletic Association championship, and a ticket to the NCAA tournament.

Gil Riego

Blue team member Chloe Harrington (sophomore) about to strike the with gritted teeth, down the field while defending orange team member, Lauren Cech (freshmen) tries to break her momentum. Photo by Gil Riego Jr.

Pretty impressive campaign, especially after finishing 2009 with a .500 record.

The Gators might have fallen short last year at the NCAA tournament, with a 3-1 loss to UC San Diego, but their future this season looks promising.

The women’s team is coming back with 14 returners. That gives them a veteran presence that will help them be consistent, as relationships among players and coaches have already been established.

For junior goalkeeper Annicia Jones their 2010 success was largely a result from their ability to play together and having a group of team leaders.

“We’re a team full of leaders and that led us to being the first team to win the CCAA,” Jones said. “I feel like that’s what we were really good at last year.”

Like any goalkeeper, Jones knows she has to be a leader for the team. Keepers have to command their team, especially defense, once on the field. They have to be loud and clear in guiding their team.

She embraces her role for the Gators but knows other players will find themselves in leadership situations at some point.

“Everybody has to at one point step up and be a leader, whether it be the goalkeeper, forward or defender,” said Jones. “Everyone is a leader their own way.”

Despite their success last year, the  SF State women’s soccer team isn’t feeling any pressure to match their 2010 campaign.

Midfielder Nicole Vanni sees their previous successes more as encouragement.

“I don’t think there’s a whole lot of pressure,” she said. “We are trying to prove that we can do it again.”

Last year the Gators had seven games in which the final score was decided by one goal. That can be seen as proof of a good defense but also an offense in need of a push.

“We were a very defensive team. This year we want to be equally strong on both sides of the ball,” said Vanni.

Head coach Jack Hyde also sees scoring as an area in need of improvement. He turned to recruiting this year in an attempt to fix the problem. Hyde also said the 12 newcomers will generate competition among strikers and the team.

“We’ve recruited well on strikers this year, so our striker position has gone up,” Hyde said. “The jersey you put on, you only rent it for the year, you don’t own it. So, you have to come back and compete for that position again.”

A significant move to improve the offense this year is the hiring of assistant coach Stephanie Wieger.

The former forward at UC Berkeley was a coach at Boise State University the last three years. Wieger’s offensive expertise will definitely help develop a better attack for the Gators.

Wieger wants her forwards, whoever they are, to have a high-motored, never-quit mentality.

“Just go, go, go. You can never shoot enough,” she said. “If you make 50 out of 100 (shots) we’ll be happy.”

She also explained the Gators will need to be more aggressive and creative on offense. Wieger will be looking for her players to take on defenders, generate plays in front of goal and be better at finishing scoring opportunities.

Hyde hopes the team will enjoy similar success to last year and seems comfortable with his team.

“We got a good core group, we are adding some new players and hopefully we can be successful again,” said Hyde.

The SF State women’s soccer team looks poised to keep the ball rolling. Time will tell how successful the team will be.

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