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Volume 71, Issue 5, Friday, August 26, 2005

Sports

Soccer set to take on Bears

Cougars hope to make statement with opener

By Louie Vera
The Daily Cougar

The University of Houston soccer team looks to make a statement in its opening weekend of play as they travel to battle Big 12 opponent Baylor at 7 p.m. The Cougars also have a 1 p.m. Sunday matchup against Nicholls State in their home opener at Robertson Stadium.

"Both teams will challenge us," head coach Bill Solberg said in a press release. "Each of them wants to be in the win column immediately. The fact that today's game is Baylor's home opener will put more pressure on us."


Sophomore Ashleigh Williams and the rest of the soccer team hope to start the season off with a victory over Baylor.
Cougar file photo

Assistant coach Josh Walters spoke of the importance of the season's opening weekend.

"These games are going to be very competitive," Walters said. "They will show where we stack up against everyone else. "Baylor has been one of the best teams in Texas and we'll see how we match up against them."

In their last meeting on Sept. 5, 2003, Baylor skimmed the Cougars 2-0. Baylor posted records of 7-9-2 overall and 3-6-1 in the Big 12 Conference last season. 

Sunday's game against Nicholls State will be the first time both teams have ever matched up. Nicholls State is part of the Southland Conference and had a 3-13-3 overall record in the 2004 campaign.

Bears senior Tiffany Boshers is one player the Cougars must keep their eye on. Boshers led the team with 25 shots on goal, placed second on the team with 58 shots and posted a shots-on-goal percentage of .431 on the year.

Despite having 12 new players on the squad, Walters said the team's chemistry and workouts have come along nicely in preparation for the opening weekend.

"It's going extremely well," Walters said. "Any time you have that many newcomers, chemistry could be an issue, but the whole team has taken a ‘family' concept. 

"For example, just the other night the entire team went over to one of their teammates' house for dinner. It's the little things like that that are making the difference."

One of those new players is Sophia Mundy, who transferred from Portland St. University where she was a two-time Big Sky Player of the Year, as well as part of the USASA National Team. 

Along with Mundy is highly recruited freshman Courtney Gaines who helped Clements High School to an impressive 23-2-1 record and progression to the Region III semifinals. Both players are expected to make instantaneous impacts.

With six seniors on the Baylor roster, the Bears hope their upperclassmen can lead the way, such as Brittani Zonker and Missy McConnell.

Zonker started and played in every game during her first season at Baylor. She recorded 13 shots and six shots on goal last season.

McConnell appeared in 16 games, tied for third on the team with six points on the season. Three of her four shots on goal resulted in goals.

With the new players, the Cougars find themselves with a lot of depth at each position and will use that to their advantage.

"Our depth is probably our strongest element," Walters said. "With so many great players at each position it will put a lot of pressure offensively on teams, and we are looking to put some scores in with it."

Coming back for her third season is Sarah Fisher, who was one of the leaders last year for the Cougar squad. Fisher led the Cougars with a team-high of six assists, while setting a new UH single-game record with four assists in 19 games she started last season.

The coaching staff also emphasized hard work will be the key to beating every team.

"We know how good these teams are, and if we just outwork them on the field, then we will be right in the mix," Walters said.

Solber said in a press release, "Our goal is to outwork every team that we play this year. If we do that, I think we will be in every game."
 

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