By Dave Wagner, Freedom Newspapers
The Eastern New Mexico University women’s soccer team set a goal of making the Lone Star Conference postseason tournament a year ago, and the Zias accomplished that by finishing sixth.
Now, picked for sixth again this season, they’re looking to get past the first round.
“I think we’re hopefully getting some respect,” said ENMU women’s coach Travis McCorkle, whose welcomed 31 players and 14 letterwinners to Tuesday’s opening workouts. “Now we just need to improve on what we’ve done. We need to see if we can get to another level.”
The Zias, entering their fifth season, lost four players to graduation who had been with the program from the start, including high-scoring forward Megan Dozier.
McCorkle said his team, entering its fifth season after going 9-9-1 overall and 4-4-1 in the LSC a year ago, will likely have to rely more on defense.
“We only have one player back with more than one year’s experience in attack (in junior midfielder Hillary Gintowt),” McCorkle said. “On the other hand, our defense should be really experienced in the back.”
The Zias open the season with matches at Durango, Colo., against host Fort Lewis on Aug. 23 and against Montana State-Billings two days later.
Third-year ENMU coach Carlos Elizondo welcomed 33 players, including 17 returnees, to Tuesday’s opening workouts. The Greyhounds were tabbed for fourth place in the five-team Southwest Soccer Conference, again where they finished a year ago.
“We’ve got to earn our keep,” Elizondo said of the poll. “This year we brought in some good talent, though, and I think we’ll do better.
“The guys are really working well together. We have a lot of guys who have played club soccer at high levels.”
Elizondo said most of the newcomers are freshmen, although a few are junior college transfers. The Hounds, who open in Denver against Colorado Christian on Aug. 25 and host Regis the next day, went 4-11-3 last season, including 1-6-2 in the SSC.