Kats ready to battle SMU

It’s not how you start the race; it’s how you finish. That motto hit home to the 2005 Sam Houston State University women’s soccer team. After going weeks before picking up their first victory, the Bearkats revived their season by winning five of their last eight games, only to lose to 1-0 to number one seeded Northwestern State. Despite the loss, the momentum the Kats picked up proved to be huge and has obviously carried over into this 2006 campaign.

The Kats began the season with a triumphant 1-0 overtime victory over SEC foe Mississippi State in which Yoanna Garcia put in the game-winner. The win was monumental considering the fact that the program is entering only its fourth season. Sam Houston let their second victory slip away when Centenary scored a goal in the last minute of regulation and eventually won 3-2 in overtime. Despite the loss, head coach Marcia Oliveira couldn’t be more satisfied with the team’s start.

“I’m very pleased with how hard we’re working right now,” Oliveira said. “The team is really working together. Our challenge is to take this program to a new level. A lot of the credit has to be handed out to all the hard games we’ve played these past three seasons. We’ve got a lot of homework to look over to try to and make this thing work. We won’t settle for anything less.”

Coach Oliveira will now have to get her team ready for one of the top teams in the nation, hosting SMU tonight at Pritchett Field at 6 p.m.

The challenge is one the Kats have been looking forward to.

“We’re very excited to see how we perform against a team of their (SMU) caliber,” Oliveira said. “They were the first team our program ever played. While we’re ready to learn from the game, we’re also going in with the attitude that we’re going to win. It’s 11-on-11 no matter how you look at it. It will be a great opportunity for our young team.”

The attitude that is beaming from this team is very positive and upbeat. It is a team that knows they are on the verge of accomplishing big things in 2006. It’s a long way from the beginning of 2005, and Oliveira gives all the credit to her players’ hard work.

“Some things we couldn’t control last year,” she said. “We had injuries an situations we just weren’t prepared for. We made it a priority to face every situation possible this year. We’ve gone over every scenario possible while doing it in 98 degrees. Right now, for us, it’s just all about being strong mentally under every circumstance.”

Sam Houston State swept the Aeropostale/Southland Conference women’s soccer player of the week honors after two solid performances during the opening week of the 2006 season. Garcia, Carla Campbell and Melissa Sauceda are this week’s winners as announced by the league office.

Garcia, a junior from Temple, scored the winning goal in the 11th minute of overtime in Sam Houston State’s 1-0 win over Mississippi State, marking the Bearkats’ first victory over an SEC opponent. She also assisted on the go-ahead goal that put SHSU up 2-1 over Centenary in the 70th minute of Sunday’s match in Shreveport. Centenary scored with three minutes to play to tie forcing overtime, then won with a goal in the 93rd minute.

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