|Posted August 17, 2008|
'08 Women's Soccer Preview
Optimism abounds in women's soccer program
Despite loss of All-American, confidence remains high for Pack entering season.
By JEFF LETOFSKY, THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
Despite losing the best player in the program's history, the
Colorado State University-Pueblo women's soccer team is filled with
The graduation of All-American forward Robin Hayes has left a gaping hole in the ThunderWolves' offensive attack as they gear up for the 2008 season.
Hayes, the Midwest Region and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference player of the year, had a remarkable season in leading the Pack to a 14-6-2 overall record, 8-3-1 in the RMAC. She scored 25 of CSU-Pueblo's 50 goals and registered 56 of the team's 145 points. The goals and points set school standards.
Hayes led the T-Wolves into the RMAC championship game where they were beaten 2-0 by Fort Lewis College. It marked CSU-Pueblo's second appearance in a conference championship game, the last one coming in 2001.
Hayes isn't the only player who will have to be replaced. Gone is defender Cassie Thimm, forward Jeanna Barnes, midfielder/defender Sheena Reimherr and midfielder Lindsey Transue. Second-year head coach Dave Morris is realistic, yet optimistic.
"It's not like we're going to replace Robin Hayes and Cassie Thimm," Morris said at the end of last season. "Plus, Jeanna, Sheena, and Lindsey all had good years. We're a college team and we will just have to rebuild and find new players to come in and join the players we have. It's going to be an exciting challenge. This (past) season, we created a new level of expectations for our program and we want to continue to meet those expectations."
Expectations. It's a word Morris said his program must not throw around freely.
"We caught lightning in a bottle last season," Morris said. "We're proud of what we did and take pride in that. Confidence is like a bed, you have to make it every day. We have to build confidence with this team by having some success.
"We're going to try and compete every game. We have a good group of kids who will keep playing, keep going to class and graduate. That's my focus."
Some of the returning players feel the 2007 campaign injected a sense of confidence into the program.
Goalkeeper Chrissy Mandarich is one of those.
"We lost some players but we have a lot of good players who have improved," said Mandarich, one of the leading keepers in the RMAC last season. "We learned last year we can play at a high level and feel like we can do that again.
"We have a lot of girls who have stepped up and showed they can play, they are ready to play. It's going to be a good season."
A pair of upperclassmen who were double-digit point scorers return to fill the scoring void. Back is senior midfielder Erica Warmack, who scored seven goals, had 10 assists and totaled 24 points and was a second-team all-RMAC selection. Also returning is junior midfielder Sarah Deffit, who had 10 points with four goals and two assists.
New additions Morris believes will contribute include Centennial High School freshman Cameron Giebel, Gabby Gonzales from Eaglecrest and Amairani Peregrina from Adams City.
Two big offensive additions are Kaylie Erickson, a transfer from Rochester (Minn.) Technical Community College, and Candice Duffy from Walla Walla (Wa.). Erickson earned All-American honors from the NJCAA, scoring 19 goals with six assists.
"Losing Robin is huge but the good thing about the way we play is we play as a team," Warmack said. "It takes every member to score a goal, to win a game. We'll score. I don't know who it's going to be but we'll get it done.
"We'll just reload and go after it just like every year. We're expecting certain players to step up their game and the new player to come in and help. We're definitely an optimistic team."
Morris believes the returnees and newcomers will mesh nicely.
"Top to bottom we've made real strides on being quicker and more athletic," he said. "Our returning players are better and have come back conditioned. We'll go into games this season expecting to win rather than hoping to win." CSU-Pueblo opens the season Aug. 29 with a home match against Augustana (S.D.). The preseason includes a two-game Texas junket Sept. 5 and 7 where the Pack will play Sam Houston and St. Edwards, respectively. The 13-game RMAC season begins Sept. 12 with a home match against Regis.