|Vandals Prep for Sooners and Beyond|
MOSCOW, Idaho—Classes will not be underway for another week, but by the time Aug. 26 rolls around the Vandals soccer team will have had three weeks of practice and three games under its belt. The young Idaho squad, which features 13 newcomers and includes 11 freshmen, will host the Oklahoma Sooners Friday at Guy Wicks Field at 4 p.m. PT., for its one and only exhibition matchup.
Only four starters remain from the 2012 squad as the Vandals enter the season. Former Vandal standout Chelsea Small, who graduated at the end of last season, leaves a void in the Vandal offense. Small, the all-time leading scorer for Idaho with 39 goals and 91 career points joins, head coach Pete Showler as a graduate manager on the sidelines.
“With such a big group of newcomers and how they have been pushing the returners so far in training, I think we will see goals coming from many areas,” Showler said. “Rather than looking to just one individual we are looking for it to be more spread out and more consistent this season.”
Idaho looks to build off its sixth place finish in the Western Athletic Conference in 2012. The Vandals will be playing in the WAC for the final time in 2013 and are out to leave a lasting impression on the conference.
“It’s a whole new year.” said senior defender Chelsie Breen. “We have 13 new players but we have really been bonding and constantly building team chemistry. We have a lot of passion and we really want to prove that we can win the WAC this year.”
Showler and the Vandals look to take each game in stride—not getting too far ahead of themselves as they prepare for the season.
“As cliché as it is we take each game as it comes,” Showler stated. “Oklahoma is going to be a measuring stick of where we are. It is more about what we are going to learn about the team from that game and what we are going to take forward from it. It will give us a lot to build on in the following week of practice as we prepare for Weber State.”
With the freshman class making up a major portion of the 2013 roster, they will be looked upon to play critical minutes early in their careers. They have a unique opportunity to impact the team from their first steps on the practice field. This year’s freshmen have a chance to build and grow into a strong senior class.
“We hope that we can learn from the returners this season,” said freshman forward Kaysha Darcy. “I think we blend really well together, even in our first couple of practices you could tell that we mix well together. Each year we want to get stronger. By our senior year we want to be as strong as we possibly can.”
Idaho will begin the regular season at Weber State on Aug. 23. The Vandals’ first regular-season home game kicks off a five-game homestand on Sept. 13 against Eastern Washington. They play UNLV and conference foes Grand Canyon, New Mexico State and UM-Kansas City in that stretch.
Idaho also will meet Utah Valley, Cal State-Bakersfield and Seattle University twice down the road in conference play, with the hopes of returning to the WAC Tournament, Nov. 8-10, at Las Cruses, N.M.