The women’s soccer team finished its 2013 campaign with an impressive 13-5-1 overall record. They also owned an above par 7-5 conference record, the team’s first season in the Southland Conference. Last season witnessed a step backwards, as the Wildcats fell to 8-9-2, including a dismal 2-6-2 record away from home, which at the time, was Shotwell Stadium. But that was last year.
The 2015 season has the Wildcats’ players and coaches excited. This squad brings in several new players, a hunger to reclaim that taste of Southland dominance and a new stadium.
“It’s nice to come out here (Elmer Gray stadium) everyday and set up and then be able to go back to our locker room,” head coach Casey Wilson said. “We did a lot of traveling last year back and forth from campus to Shotwell, so to be back on campus for the students and fans is a great thing that we’re excited about.”
The Wildcats welcome 10 freshmen to the team, along with two transfers from Butler County Community College and Folsom Lake Community College. The upperclassmen all share two years of varsity experience to lead the team, followed by a handful of players returning after their first year on the team.
Sophomore Baylee Mitchell will look to build on a successful 2014 season, where she was one of the top goal scorers in the conference, as a freshman. She recorded a hat trick in ACU’s Purple and White intrasquad scrimmage. Juniors Natalie Throneberry and Kelsie Roberts will also lead the Wildcats at the forward and defender positions.
“We have a good mix of transfers and freshmen, and some really good juniors and seniors that are strong all together,” Roberts said. “It’s a really good mix of girls who have a lot of drive and desire for success.”
With the loss of midfielder Sarah Schoch, junior Maria Gomez is the most likely choice to fill the hole. She played the roles of holding and defensive midfielder this past year with both the Wildcats and Colombian National Team.
Junior goalkeepers Kelsey Dombrowski and Sydney Newton split time in the box last season and logged the third-lowest goals-against average in the Southland Conference at 1.17. Dombrowski logged a 0.98 goals-against average during her sophomore season with 52 saves and a ,839 save percentage. Newton, meanwhile, ranked among the league’s leaders with a 1.37 GAA, .797 save percentage and 4.25 saves per game (51).
The schedule features several premier teams around the country. After the exhibition against Baylor, the Wildcats face the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. Then starting in September, ACU faces the University of North Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Christian University and the University of Texas. The Wildcats fell to North Texas last year, 3-1, in Denton and TCU, 3-0, in Fort Worth. This year however, the rematch with UNT game will be at Elmer Gray.
The Wildcats were predicted to finish fifth in the Southland this season, behind top vote getter Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston State, defending conference champion Houston Baptist and Southeastern Louisiana. The more notable games of the season will be against SELU in Hammond, Louisiana, HBU in Houston, SFA in Abilene and SHSU in Abilene. The Wildcats will have to rely on strong home play this year and win the games they are supposed to win.
“We need to take advantage of the opportunities were given, simple as that,” Wilson said. “We’re facing a lot of good teams, especially in these next few weeks, and when we have the opportunity, we need to put the ball in the frame.”