Soccer team prepares
to sock it to the conference
By Tom Carpenter
Daily Cougar Staff
The UH soccer team enjoys the distinction
of being the only sport played at UH never to suffer a losing season. Head
coach Bill Solberg intends to keep it that way.
"The talent in Houston has enabled us to
put together a very successful program," Solberg said. "But at some point
you have to say it's better to be lucky than good because
there's been some luck there too."
But luck won't have much to do with a winning
season this year. With 10 seniors returning from a 9-9-1 season, the veteran
Lady Cougars have their eyes set on a Conference
USA championship and an NCAA berth in
Solberg begins his second season with the
Lady Cougars after replacing former coach Chris Huston, who started the
soccer program at UH.
The Wisconsin native brings energy and
enthusiasm to the job and understands the Cougar sports program is on the
Pin Lim/The Daily Cougar
A Lady Cougar defends the goal during
practice Monday. Lady Cougar Soccer, the only team in UH history never
to suffer a losing season, prepares for the first game of the season against
Army on Sept. 2 in Houston.
The seniors will leave a legacy few classes
can match if they play .500 ball or better in their final year.
The women were the first Cougars to step
on the field and compete in soccer. They've been with the program for its
entire existence and would like nothing better than to leave
UH without suffering a losing season.
In his first season at the helm of the
Lady Cougar soccer program, Solberg dared something few coaches would contemplate,
let alone do, with a veteran squad in the middle of
"At the end of last season we went 5-1-1
with a brand-new style of play. What people are going to see this year
is a national style of play," Solberg said. "The teams that make
the Final Four each year use a possession-oriented,
very exciting style."
Solberg thinks he's got the troops to play
ball control and dominate time of possession: excellent ball handlers and
"We've got the best ball handlers we've
ever had in the history of the program so far," Solberg said. "We're hoping
the only time the other team gets the ball is when they pick it
up out of the net after we score."
Ten seniors allow Solberg the luxury of
doling out game experience to his latest recruits, without demanding too
much from them on the field.
The Lady Cougars' brand of soccer epitomizes
teamwork, intensity and consistency. No one player has to carry the team.
Opponents will be forced to spread themselves
thin to cover all the Cougar scorers, instead of concentrating on keeping
one exceptional player under control with double and
"We don't have a 'go to' player. We have
a very talented team," Solberg said. "It's tough to say one player is a
'go to' player. Our 'go to' player is the 11 players we have on the
That's what makes his soccer team a force
to be reckoned with this year, according to Solberg.
With Texas Christian and East Carolina
joining the conference this year, Solberg says he thinks Conference USA
is moving up the ladder in terms of overall conference
"Adding TCU and East Carolina only helps
us," Solberg said. "Our schedule is the toughest one in the conference.
It helps with our recruiting; it helps better prepare us for the
conference championship and the NCAA tournament."
Solberg shares the sentiment that every
Chet Gladchuk-hired coach possesses — you have to play the best to be the
"What we're doing is setting up a schedule
to set ourselves up to play some really competitive games, that in the
long run will help us win the conference or at least win the
conference championship," Solberg said.
The Lady Cougar soccer schedule is dotted
with powerhouse teams like Texas A&M, Marquette, Texas, TCU and Memphis.
A formidable schedule doesn't intimidate
Solberg or his soccer team.
"We've preached all pre-season we're a
family and there's no substitute for hard work. My prediction is every
game people come out to watch they will see 100 percent effort 100
percent of the time," Solberg said. "That's
all I can really ask out of my girls."
If experience means anything in collegiate
sports, the Lady Cougar soccer team will wage a ferocious battle for a
conference championship and an NCAA berth.
"We have no excuses as far as practice
facilities and game facilities. It's time to produce. These seniors, it's
a special year for them. They want it more than anything else right