San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec




San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Women’s soccer readying for third straight MW title

Womens soccer readying for third straight MW title
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The beginning of August brings a familiar feeling to athletes and sports fans everywhere. Autumn is just around the corner, which means football and soccer are gearing up for the 2014 campaign.

The San Diego State women’s soccer team has reported for pre-season practice and started its quest for a third straight Mountain West regular season title.

SDSU has won the past two regular season and Mountain West Tournament titles, and has also gone to the NCAA tournament the past three years.

Last season, the Aztecs overcame a dreadful start—one win in their first eight games, only to go on and win the regular season and conference tournament championship.

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This year is different, as SDSU women’s soccer head coach Mike Friesen doesn’t like comparisons to other years, saying he just wants this team to play to its full potential and not be seen as “not as good as the 2012 squad.”

Here’s a look at some of the storylines going on this year:

WHO’S BACK?

Senior striker Hannah Keane, the joint-top scorer in the conference last season. Her 12 goals were the result of her work rate and help from her teammates, according to Friesen. There’s also junior midfielder Victoria Barba, who Friesen called fantastic.

“She has the personality where she can take a game over and be dominant, she’s good on the ball, has great vision and plays much bigger than she is,” he said.

Seniors Kelsey Booth and Haley Locker should also add speed and width to an Aztec attack that was “lacking in firepower” last season, Friesen said.

Starting goalkeeper Melanie Vaughn is also returning. The redshirt junior will add some continuity to the lineup.

WHO’S GONE?

Three defenders—Haley Palmer, Carli Johnson and Kory Spotts— are gone from a back four that kept 12 clean sheets in 22 matches last year. The three also combined for six goals and four assists and Palmer’s presence down the wing will be sorely missed. Coach Friesen said that he’s going to focus a lot on the back four at the beginning of this season in the hope that he can find a cohesive unit for the rest of the season.

SDSU’s defense was also prone to tire out in the second half, giving away more fouls and having to make more saves in the second half than the first.

Also gone this year are forward Jensen Skinner and midfielder Sophie Metz. Both played in every game last year and were big parts in Friesen’s “Front 6” formation consisting of three forwards and three midfielders.

WHO’S NEW?

SDSU has a talented incoming freshman class. Angela Mitchell, from Corona, Calif., and Aliyah Utush, from Rocklin, Calif., are two players that Friesen says are fast, have good skill sets and can help what he called a “lack of firepower up top.”

Stacie Moran, Xochi Hunter, Hailey Balma and Katie Saavedra round out the incoming freshman, along with redshirt freshman Erika Leal.

Along with the newcomers, Friesen recently announced two transfers would be joining the squad as well. Meggie Gulczynski, who played the last two years nearby at University of San Diego, brings two years of experience as a defender, something Friesen said will be very important as he looks to solidify who exactly his starting defenders will be.

Zsuria Phare is the other transfer, also a defender, but will have three years of eligibility remaining on Montezuma Mesa. Phare started all 22 games last season as a defender for Division II Metro State in Denver, Colo. The Roadrunners defense kept eight clean sheets. 

KEY DATES:

At 7 p.m. on Aug. 22, the Aztecs host Michigan State University, a team they drew 1-1 with in East Lansing, Mich. last year. Nine days later, SDSU will host University of Michigan and try to avenge a 3-1 defeat in Ann Arbor last season. Those two matches are part of a five-game homestand to open the season.

Three of those matches have 7 p.m. start times and are on Friday nights, something Friesen said his team enjoys.

“We like the Friday night games,” he said. “Anytime you can play under the lights the girls get excited.”

After this homestand is SDSU’s first road trip of the year and because of that, Friesen thinks the first five games at home are crucial.

“We are looking to solidify how we defend as a team and be the absolute best team we can be before we get on the road,”he said.

Between Sept. 12 and 14, the Aztecs travel to Portland to take on University of Washington, and the University of Portland—who beat SDSU at the Sports Deck last season. That road trip will be followed by a hop, skip and a jump over to Linda Vista to take on the USD Toreros, who the Aztecs handled 3-0 at the Sports Deck last year.

The conference season starts on Sept. 26 with a trip to San Jose to take on the San Jose State University Spartans. Four of the last five conference matches are at home for SDSU, not including the Mountain West Tournament, which will be held at the Sports Deck this year. 

SYNOPSIS:

What’s his goal for the year? It’s not necessarily a tangible thing.

“One of the things that can make this year exciting, is to be this team’s best,” he said. “We want to be a blue-collar, hardworking, organized team.”

There’s one last thing to note: The Aztecs don’t have to play the University of California, Los Angeles this season. The Bruins have beaten SDSU the last three times they met, including the last two NCAA Tournaments, by a combined score of 8-0.

Even though Friesen said the team isn’t thinking about that, his goal is to have the team playing at a high enough level to where they can buck that losing trend.

“We don’t fear anybody,” he said. “We want to put [ourselves] in the best position to get the best draw possible. Our goals aren’t outcome-based, and I want to be all about our process, and what we do on a daily basis to put ourselves in the best position to win a game. Our focus will be performing each game.”

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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Women’s soccer readying for third straight MW title