The women’s soccer team will look to rely on a balance of youth and experience for their upcoming season. With a strong core of experienced seniors, along with many fresh faces, the team will hope to find the best combination to match the level of success they found last year.
“We’re really excited to be able to step into those leadership roles this season,” said Sarah Schoch, senior midfielder. “We want to be great leaders for this team, both on and off the field.”
Seniors Madison Brown, Taylor Brown, Katie Stivers and Schoch will lead this year’s team as they come into this season with three years of varsity ball under their belts. Sophomore Sydney Newton will be in the net, proven to be reliable for the Wildcats and one of the best stoppers in the conference last season. Newton recorded a career high of eight saves in the Wildcats’ season opener against the University of Tulsa, which ACU lost 1-0.
The Wildcats lost Andrea Carpenter, one of the most decorated players to come through the program, but, with a knowledgeable and skillful group of seniors, the team is looking to continue the excellence it found last season.
“Every day we are looking to get better,” Schoch said. “Playing in the Southland is not easy in any way, it takes a lot of effort and work, but we have the drive and the players to succeed.”
The program will also welcome nine freshmen to the team, whose greatest challenge will be finding their place and role in securing the success of the team.
“They’ve had great personalities and have been great to be around as we’ve prepared for this season,” Schoch said. “It’s been awesome getting to know each one of their games and what their strengths and weaknesses are.”
New faces can lead to more of a learning curve, but head coach Casey Wilson looks at it as an advantage.
“We want to continue to open up our options and have different avenues in all aspects of the game,” Wilson said. “We don’t want just two scorers or just a few defenders, we want depth. We’ve been building on that year by year, and it gives us an edge.”
With a mixture of new and old talent, the team has a promising future.
“It’s a great feeling knowing you have experience out there and knowing that these girls can see things and adjust and help their teammates adjust to in-game situations,” Wilson said.
Perhaps the biggest change this year’s soccer team faces is playing their home games off-campus. Recent renovation to the university has caused the team’s temporary move to Shotwell.
“The main issue is the turf, it’s very different playing on grass to going to turf,” Wilson said. “The turf at Shotwell is relatively newer and is better to use than most. If it was eight to 10 years old, it might be too tough to use.”
In the coaches’ pre-season poll, ACU was predicted to repeat another fourth-place finish in the conference.
Wilson enters his eighth year as head coach. He has a lifetime record of 85-46-9 and helped lead the Wildcats to a strong bounce-back season in which they finished 13-5-1 – much improved from their 8-10-1 record in 2012.