The first soccer season is in the books

The Sam Houston State women’s soccer team ended its inaugural season with a 4-2 loss to Texas State-San Marcos at Pritchett Field last Friday.

Texas State’s Allison Crain scored a goal in the game’s 24th minute, and Jaynee Sherman added another 10 minutes later. The Bobcats took a 3-0 lead 12 minutes into the second half on a goal by Kendra Kade.

SHSU’s Adrienne Monroe put the Kats on the board with a goal in the 64th minute, followed by a Katie Blaylock score in the 77th minute that brought the Kats back into the game. With less than eight minutes remaining in the game, the Kats were called for a foul in the box, which resulted in a penalty kick. Kade made her penalty kick to put the game away.

SHSU head coach Marcia Oliveira said despite the loss, she was pleased with her players’ performance. “The game was very good,” Oliveira said. “The girls played hard, and they did all the things I was asking for. I knew it was not going to be the same game (as the last time). I believe we improved 100 percent, and Texas State diminished their performance about 60 percent.” The last match between the two teams ended in an 8-1 SHSU loss.

Oliveira said her players learned an important lesson in Friday’s game, as they have in almost every game this season. “(The game) was another learning tool for us,” Oliveira said. “We had not been able to come back before when we trailed. We shot more, and we gave them a lot more situations to have to defend the counter-attack. Their goalkeeper had to come out a couple times to make a save, and we shot the ball over her.”

The loss dropped the Kats to 4-16-0 on the season, and it also will force them to wait until next year for their first conference win. SHSU was winless in 12 conference games this season. Although their record does not show it, the Kats have performed very well for a first-year team, Oliveira said. They have shown more maturity and better decision-making ability with each passing game and are in good shape heading into the off-season.

Oliveira said she wants to use the last game as a starting point for next season. “Starting next year from where we finished this past Friday, I think is a good situation,” she said.

Of all the lessons the Kats learned in their first venture through NCAA soccer, the most important was that they had to step on the field with a winning mentality against any opponent. “Soccer is not like some other sports where you can do a few things and hold the game the whole time,” Oliveira said. “I think soccer can be very easy if you play very smartly. So I do believe that one of the biggest things they (the players) have learned is that regardless of who is the opponent, I trust in them. I believe they have confidence in themselves, and they can do it.”

Oliveira, along with her players, is very optimistic about the future. She said she will do some minor recruiting in the off-season, focusing mainly on defense.

Goalkeeping, Oliveira said, is definitely not one of the areas she will be looking to improve. She said she is content with her goalies, Melissa Sauceda and Ashley Zendt, both of whom are freshman.

Good defenders would be a welcome addition to a team that allowed a conference-high 71 goals this season, an average of 3.55 a game. All of those scoring opportunities for SHSU opponents did do something positive for the Kats, however, as SHSU goalies topped the conference with 168 saves.

Sauceda finished third in the Southland Conference with 125 of those saves. The

Kats also managed to tie with SFA for the second highest goal tally, with a total of 47. Forward Kim Brown ranked fifth in the SLC in goals and second in assists.

Oliveira’s experience this season in building SHSU’s soccer program from the ground up was not her first of the kind. She coached the squad at Mary Hardin-Baylor in its early stages and developed it into a contender. Her team at Sam Houston, she said, surpasses that team at the end of its first season. “This team is much better,” Oliveira said. “The talent was higher, and the understanding of the game was much better. They were a very nice team to have fun with and be around. This is a good group.”

Oliveira said she is very happy with the team’s development and learning ability. She said she feels good about next year. “I’m very pleased with the way the girls have been dedicated to the team,” Oliveira said. “We had some ups and downs, but more ups than downs. We did a very good job on keeping up with the other teams, even though we were in our first year. We were a little bit younger, and a little inexperienced, but only time is going to bring that.”

Oliveira also expressed gratitude for all of the fans that came to the games to support Bearkat soccer in its inaugural season. Along with those fans, thanks also go out from Oliveira to one Kooter the Goat. Which once again proves the old theory, everybody loves Kooter.

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