Soccer maintains strength, vigor and tempo in season opener

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Junior forward Sofia Olsson helped the Lady Lions to put 27 shots on goal.

Nikisun Shrestha/ The Lion's Roar 

The Lady Lions soccer season got off to a great start with Head Coach Christopher McBride at the helm as the team registered a 3-0 victory over Jackson State University at home.

An early own goal broke the deadlock in the sixth minute. The team motivated by the early lead were eager to add more goals and were creating several chances in the opposition half.  

“It was a great team performance,” said McBride. “Everyone put in a shift today. We started with a lot of new people and got a lot of people from the bench as well. It was a real team effort, started off real hot. The tempo was pretty high. I felt like we defended pretty well in their half and we got the ball into areas we wanted.”

The Lady Lions doubled their lead at 26 minute mark after junior defender Christina Cutura headed in a corner while a 66 minute penalty from senior midfielder Maddie Kresevic sealed the victory. 

McBride was pleased with the performance of his team both on the offensive and the defensive front. He saw all his players on the field execute his plans well. 

“Tactically, we did everything we wanted to do going into the game,” said McBride. “The backline did a phenomenal job, the midfielders were stepping in. Attacking wise, we had chances from everyone today. You know, building up the attack, we had defenders, midfielders and forwards, everyone getting their shots off. So, it was a really good all round team performance tonight.” 

The game featured many new faces in the roster, and the coach was happy with their effort. The team has 11 new players added to the squad for this season. Two of the standout freshmen were Larissa Galvez Estrada, who recorded an assist and Jessi Cooper with two shots on goal.

“They’ve done really, really well,” said McBride. “We started five of them tonight. We started five freshman in a Division I game and came out with a 3-0 victory. You know it’s really good. They’ve done really well. The biggest change for them has been the change of pace and play but they’ve adapted to it.”

McBride was happy with how the experienced players helped the incoming players adapt to college level soccer by setting a great example during the training sessions.  

“We’ve got a good junior and senior class setting an example for them, getting them to play at a tempo, making sure the practice is always intense, making sure they’re always executing the right skills at right time,” said McBride. “So, overall it’s been really good for us.”     

The victory displayed the hard work the team had put in during the preseason. 

“It’s a great start to the year to get the momentum started,” said Kresevic. “Our preseason was really successful and everyone came in ready to work. It was a new style of play that we had to get used to, and it’s gonna benefit us obviously as you can see in this game.” 

Cutura added to how important the preseason has been for the team.            

“Preseason has been amazing,” said Cutura. “You know we got a whole new crew, new coach. He’s taught us so much in the short two weeks. It just has really paid off. It’s his first game, and we’re moving forward and learning more things. I think that we can incorporate those little things and really make them better.”    

McBride gave his opinion on the preseason and added how the team has been working on fitness and game plans.

“Preseason’s been really good,” said McBride. “We’ve had everyone healthy, and we’ve been building on fitness every day. So, it’s been really good having everyone available for the session. From here, we’re still figuring out tactically what we wanna do and where we wanna go. Today was a good game plan for what we had and executed it well. So just going forward we want to  adapt to a different game plan and make sure we understand different tactical situations and what we need to do.” 

With the team built on a new coaching setup, the players believe that the team has progressed and expect a good season ahead

“I’m a senior, and this is the best team chemistry hands down from the start,” said Kresevic. “So, I think it’s a really good year.”

The team is hungry for success and have set up a clear goal for the season.    

“We want to get that ring in the end,” said Kresevic. “We have the same goals. We have little things here and there that will help us get there, so, we just take it game by game.”  

Cutura believes consistent hard work can take the team all the way towards getting the ring at the end of the season.

“It’s super exciting to get that first win under the belt,” said Cutura. “I mean that just shows what we’ve done and how much more we can do to just work harder towards that ring. Everybody worked hard together, and I think it’s gonna be a great year.” 

 McBride said that it is best for his team to operate with a one game at a time approach. He feels that focusing on the next game ahead is key to moving forward.    

“We’re just taking one game at a time,” McBride explains. “With 11 new players, we just take one game at a time. We don’t focus on the end product or the end of the season right now. We’ll build game by game, we’ll take one game as it comes. Right now, our focus is on Georgia State University next Friday. After that, we’ll look at Alabama State University and go from there. Just one game at a time right now, focusing on the little things building up, and we’ll see where we are in the post season. I’m just proud of the team tonight and looking forward to the rest of the season.”

The Lady Lions will play at the University Center on Friday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m.  

 

Junior midfielder Vanessa Arzaluz, helped the Lady Lions started the season off with a 3-0 win against Jackson State University at home.
Nikisun Shrestha/ The Lion's Roar 

 

 

 

 

 Senior defender Kim Porche assisted the Lady Lions in defending Jackson State University. 
Nikisun Shrestha/ The Lion's Roar