Experience Key to Pirate Success on Pitch
GEORGETOWN, Texas - Soccer season has hit the campus at Southwestern University and the women's soccer team has been furiously preparing for the upcoming season, using high team expectations to motivate on the field.
Head Coach Jene' Baclawski returns all but three starters from last year's team that showed great promise while playing a difficult schedule. Leading the charge is a group of five seniors who entered the program when Baclawski took hold of the reigns and have been vital in molding the team into her vision. "The five seniors are absolutely critical to the success of the team," states Baclawski. "These are the players that I brought in to put their stamp on the program and I couldn't be more pleased with how they have done."
The defense of the Pirates is where the bulk of the leadership sits with team captains Lyndsey Resnik on the defensive line and Sarah Nonaka in goal. Nonaka was third in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference in saves last season with 95, just two shy of the conference leaders Lenz of Centre and Mosley of Hendrix. Resnik has been a steady, smart defender who helped the Pirates earn seven shutouts last year. Says Coach Baclawski, "Resnik and Nonaka have been outstanding leaders on and off the field and I know that will continue this season."
"A big chunk of the seniors are going to play a lot and be very critical to the game itself," continues Baclawski. "I think they get that it is about the team being successful and not about their individual awards and accomplishments which continues to push us in the right direction."
With a small senior class Baclawski will rely strongly on junior and sophomore classes that have gained a lot of experience in a short amount of time. Juniors Danielle De Los Santos, Rachel Placke, Rebecca Petro and Lindsay Jakszta played in every game they were available for last season and will provide a solid core for the Pirates to build from. Petro was tied for the most goals last year with four and also tied for a team high nine points. De Los Santos tied for the most assists on the team with three while Jakszta and Placke worked tirelessly in the backfield to spark SU's offensive attack. "It is going to be nice to see the junior class step up and become upper class role models on the team," shares Baclawski. "They have traditionally had a lot of playing time and a lot of impact on the field and it is now time for them to step up and make this their team."
Despite being young last season, this year's sophomore class has a lot of experience under their belt that will serve Baclawski well this season. Included in the class are Hannah Neil, who was third on the team in goals last season, Third Team All-SCAC selection Carol Bentley and Claire Matthews who was a force defensively for the Pirates. "The sophomores are going to be great now that they have a feel for the style of play and the demands our system and I am expecting them to have a breakout year."
Five first-years join the fray and are poised to make waves early on for Southwestern despite being a small class. "The first-years came in extremely fit and are adjusting to the college game well," states Baclawski. "The thing about these athletes is that they were brought in with the goal that they will make an immediate impact right away."
Not only will the Pirates be showcasing new talent and a new logo on the field, but they will also be putting a new style on display that will hopefully mystify opponents. "We are going to be very scripted at certain points this season," shares Baclawski. "This is the first year since I have been here that we have constructed the team to play this particular style where they are much more regimented in certain situations. I hope that the style is more attacking oriented and should be entertaining for our fans to watch."
With so much talent at Baclawski's disposal, the depth of the Pirate bench will undoubtedly be their biggest asset. "The team is so deep in talent that the difference between, playing, starting and travelling is often going to come down to the very minor details and how well players execute the game plan."
Southwestern wastes no time putting their new look to the test as they open the season with 2010 NCAA DIII National Champion Hardin-Simmons on August 31st in Abilene. The Cowgirls are ranked 10th in the NSCAA/Continental Tire NCAA Division III Women's National Preseason Ranking. "I expect them to be just as good if not better than they were, but I expect us to be competitive and I think it is going to be a good opportunity to see exactly where we are at," states Baclawski. "I think we will have some surprises for them that will catch them off guard, but I am excited to see how we match up against national caliber teams and how we can raise our game to that level."
On September 4th SU opens their home schedule with a night game against Concordia (TX) at 7pm. "This will be a good game for us. Concordia will be a tough home opener as they have some great talent and, despite going through yet another coaching change, is a program on the rise."
Another new component to the 2012 season is the new SCAC which will pit conference opponents against one another twice in a home and away series instead of just once, putting a new wrinkle in the action. "Women's soccer in the SCAC will continue to be one of the strongest conferences in the nation. We will see a trend that the remaining SCAC teams will continue to head in a positive direction, but having preseason-ranked #3 Trinity as a travel partner for our conference schedule will be a benefit to our program. It will be an adjustment for the players to move to a home and away schedule, but it will be fun to build new rivalries and maintain old ones."
Southwestern will also serve as host for the 2012 SCAC Conference Tournament beginning on November 2nd. "Having home field advantage for the SCAC tournament puts us in a good position. Our goal is to be a higher seed and get a first round bye, allowing us to get our feet on the ground and take advantage of the fact that it is our home field and our home crowd. It is a great opportunity for our parents and fans to come and support the team in a very critical time of the year and hopefully we will be clicking on all cylinders and playing the best soccer we have played all season."
"Without the addition of the lights and some of the other projects that have been completed at the field it would not have been possible to host and I think it is going to be a great weekend for soccer."
The addition of Jamie Meshew to the coaching staff will give SU another leg-up on the competition as she brings years of soccer knowledge to the sidelines.
Coach Baclawski's hungry and determined team is ready to step up to any challenge that may cross their path and are focused on making a name for themselves in the new SCAC. "The team's desire to win and have success as a group is fantastic. They are here to win a championship. They understand that it is about the team developing and earning the most they can."