Following a 4-0 start and week that has included jumping 12 spots in the latest NCAA national poll, one might be asking, “What’s next for the ACU women’s soccer team?” Lone Star Conference play is what’s next.
The No. 12 Wildcats (4-0) will kick off their 2011 LSC schedule Friday, hosting Incarnate Word at 5 p.m. at the Wildcat Soccer Pitch.
“This is always a fun part of the year,” midfielder Julie Coppedge said. “Starting conference play is something we always look forward to, as it is important and relevant to the goals we hope to reach as a team. We have a clean slate, and the road ahead is all we are concerned about.”
This game comes on the heels of unchartered waters for the young ACU women’s soccer program. The team, in its only fifth year as a program, was ranked No, 12 in the nation by the National Soccer Coaches’ Association of America’s weekly poll.
For Head Coach Casey Wilson, this news serves as motivation, but nothing the team plans to hang their hat on.
“I think it’s fantastic that we are receiving some much deserved recognition for our play as of late. A lot of it comes on the heels of our great year last year,” Wilson said. “I’m glad we’re off to a quick start, but it’s a long season and this is just the beginning.”
“But, we are not going to let this define us or our play. We are still going to go put there and play like we know how to play, no matter what we’re ranked,” he added.
All-American forward Andrea Carpenter echoed Wilson, saying that while the recognition is fulfilling, it does not define the team or their play.
“The recognition is awesome and well-deserved for our team, but we don’t place a whole lot of importance on where we’re ranked. All we can do is keep quiet and play our game,” she said. “And that’s what we plan on doing.”
On a regional scale, ACU is ranked second behind No. 2 St. Edwards, and, as Wilson says, that is the number they are focused on.
“While the national poll is one people place lots of importance on, it is just a scale,” Wilson said. “The regional poll is the one we need to make sure we as a team are looking at because it determines the longevity of our season.”
Averaging 3.25 goals per game, the Wildcats are ranked 17 nationally in scoring offense. Their defense is noteworthy also, as the unit ranks among the nation’s 50 best.
Incarnate Word enters Friday’s matchup at 2-0-1 and is coming off a 3-3 tie with Truman State. The Wildcats beat Truman 4-2 last weekend.
Lead by forwards Amber Guenther and Sarah Johnson, the Cardinals offense averages 3 goals a game to giving up 1.33.
That said, the ACU defense will have their hands full with those two, and sophomore defender Brie Buschman says the only way to contain them is by communication and teamwork.
“The key to containing two forwards like these is to always be alert, to communicate with others, and by working together,” Buschman said. “If we do that, we’ll be fine.”
Angelo State plays Midwestern Friday before traveling to Abilene. The Rambelles (1-3) average 1.75 goals per game and allow 1.50 to opponents.
They are led by Brandie DeBacker and Maggie Schaffer, who each have scored three goals.
“Both of these teams present tough matchups for us. They will come out swinging and we expect nothing less than a battle,” Wilson said.
The Wildcats will host the Cardinals at 5 p.m. Friday and then play Angelo State at 1 p.m. Sunday.