This archived article was written by: Megan Fietkau
After a long, hot summer of sprints and distance runs, 31 Lady Eagle soccer players made their way to USU Eastern with hearts and eyes full of commitment.
The team arrived a month before school started and were ready to train on day one. Twenty-five freshman and six returning sophomores make up this year’s team.
In the coaches’ eyes, potential for success has been apparent from the beginning. “Overall, I am very pleased with the group,” said Head Coach Ammon Bennett. He, along with the other coaches and team captains noticed the potential as well, and according to sophomore captain McKenna Brown, it’s “incredible.”
Still as a young soccer program of only three years, USU Eastern has high hopes of success for the upcoming season. According to Bennett, in order to gain this success, the team has, “got to get on the same page.”
The Lady Eagles had to find their mental toughness and strive for positive team dynamic from the get-go. Starting the preseason with two-a-days, the plentiful hours of training started at 6 a.m. with hard conditioning and ended with a second technique practice at 6 p.m. Days of strenuous training hours were put in from both the coaches and players in order to be fired up for the preseason games.
Bennett said, “We still have a long way to go to be ready for the season opener, but progress has been swift and great.”
The first preseason tournament was played in Rock Springs, Wyo., on Aug. 26-27 against Colorado Northeastern Community College and Western Wyoming Community College. The Eagles shut out CNCC 2-0 and defeated WWCC 3-2.
The two games were played in front of family members and friends who took time to support this young soccer program and the athletes that make the team whole.
For many of the women on the team, this tournament would be the first college games they have ever played.
“It was nerve-racking to say the least,” said freshman Kennadie Anderson. With nerves boiling on the surface, the Lady Eagles started both games with domination overall of both halves.
In the game against CNCC, exploding towards their offensive third, 17 shots were taken by the whistle of halftime. As the game played on, the nerves settled and the lady eagles came out with a 2-0 shutout against the Spartans with 30 shots to be noted for season statistics.
“I think we still have a long way to go, but I feel like we’re already much better than we were at this point last season,” said co-captain Ashley Christiansen.
The game against the WWCC Mustangs was played at a different pace. With a win already under the belt, the Eagles came out confident and focused.
Head to head competition was obvious for those spectating. The Mustangs were more aggressive and faster than CNCC and the level of play was a lot higher than the game the evening before.
Defensive mistakes and lack of communication overall from the team lead to the two goals scored by WWCC striker from a top ninety shot outside the eighteen-yard penalty box. All of which were followed by team built plays by the Eagles to one up the Mustangs with a score of 3-2.
Staying positive, the Lady Eagles came out of the tournament with a 2-0 winning record for the 2016 fall season.
“I predict that we’re headed for great things,” said Brown after the conclusion of the first two preseason games.
The Lady Eagles will be competing in their last preseason tournament Sept. 8-9 in Henderson, Nev., against Southern Nevada Community College and Grand Canyon University respectively.
“I love seeing the unity that we have, and because of that, I know that we will go far this season,” says freshman captain, Gabriella Sorenson.