Courtesy: Spencer Farrin (Pullman, Wash.)
|Soccer announces schedule|
MOSCOW, Idaho – After the program made another leap forward with a postseason victory and a berth in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament semifinal round, University of Idaho women’s soccer is ready to continue that rising trend this fall.
Vandal head coach Pete Showler said he was very pleased with the way Idaho’s spring season turned out, and with 20 players returning from last year’s team, including eight of its top 10 scorers and two senior goalkeepers, he has plenty of good reasons to feel that way.
With such a large group available in the spring season, Showler used the time to introduce and experiment with new formations and position assignments. He said the approach had a two-fold effect on the team, because all the new wrinkles helped also improve overall on-field communication.
“It’s always tough when you challenge them with new things, because you get so ingrained with what you’re doing, but we were successful with it,” Showler said. “The game is very fluid and it changes a lot, just within 90 minutes. The girls showed how well they can adapt and how well they can take on more responsibility.
“You want 11 team captains out there helping to direct everyone else, especially when you start looking at different formations and responsibilities. This spring has been immense in that area and I have every confidence that it will continue to improve in the fall.”
The spring schedule included wins over Montana and North Idaho College, a pair of losses to Washington State and Gonzaga and a draw with Central Washington, and it capped off two weeks ago with a 7-on-7 tournament at Gonzaga.
The tournament, which was the final event of the spring, provided one final learning experience in addition to being a fun way to cap off the season. It featured short games on compact fields with no offsides rules and Showler said it took the team a couple games to get in the right mindset.
“There’s little bits of the 7v7 that related well to the way we play, and then some that went against our philosophy, so it took us a little while to get acclimated and when we did, it was very good,” Showler said. “It was a time to get a lot of minutes under your belt and really enjoy yourself for all the hard work you’ve put in this spring.”
At the event, nearly every Vandal scored and several players spent time outside their normal playing positions as a way to spice things up and to see new perspectives in quick playing action.
That experience and the confidence and comfort of playing in different settings will be important for the Vandals as they look at a 2012 schedule that Showler says is the toughest the team has faced under him.
“The first game is away at Texas Tech – it’s a baptism of fire,” Showler said. “It doesn’t get any tougher than that start, but then we’re back home for our next three games and we’re at Boise for a tournament, which isn’t too tough of an away trip for us.”
After playing South Dakota, Gonzaga and North Dakota State, then playing Montana and Idaho State at the Boise State tournament, the Vandal women hit the road for seven of their next nine games.
Key non-conference road games include a cross-country trip to face Miami and Florida International on Sept. 7-9, at Eastern Washington on Sept. 14 and at UNLV on Sept. 23. The Vandals will open WAC play on Sept. 28-30 at Texas State and UTSA.
The battle of the Palouse will be Sunday, Sept. 16, when the Idaho hosts Washington State. The team also welcomes Utah Valley University on Sept. 23 in home non-conference action.
“It’s always nice to challenge yourself against those top teams,” Showler said. “Win, lose or draw, we’re going to be in some tough battles, but it’s all about getting us ready for that WAC schedule and the WAC Tournament. It’s going to be the toughest schedule since I’ve been here.”
Idaho’s first home WAC contest will be Oct. 11, against San Jose State. The Vandals also get Utah State (Oct. 14), Denver (Oct. 26) and New Mexico State (Oct. 28) in home WAC matches. The Oct. 28 game against NM State will also be Senior Day for Idaho’s 11 seniors-to-be.
“With the addition of Seattle and Denver and the Texas schools, it really improves the all-around depth and quality of the league,” Showler said. “We’ve got to be as well-prepared as we can and, home or away, we have to be prepared for many different styles of play.”
Showler said many of the girls will stick around Moscow for the summer session and that they’ve already begun working toward the Aug. 1 start date.
“The girls will get back at the end of July and we start August 1, so the summer will probably be gone before we know it,” Showler said. “A lot of the girls are going to stay here this summer and they want to work hard to be the best they can be. As a coach, I can ask no more.”