Clarksville, Ark.-U of O women's soccer Head Coach Jeremey Bernard is expecting a more competitive and confident squad going into the 2002 season.
The Lady Eagles were winners of their last two games a year ago and Bernard hopes to build off that momentum heading into the upcoming season. "We want to build off the last couple of wins of the year," said Bernard. "Things started clicking at the end of the year for us and we really came together through the second half of the season. There was team unity and it showed on the field. We should be a bit stronger than last season." Bernard expects a renewed dedication for this season. While taking their lumps a year ago as a young team, the Lady Eagles gained valuable experience under Bernard’s style. "Last season a lack of fitness was a huge problem and I don’t think that is going to be a problem this season," said Bernard, who at 26 is the league’s youngest coach. "All the girls have been training this summer and playing a lot. The team will also benefit from a year of my playing style." The squad returns ten starters and welcomes the additions of transfers Kim Jacky, Lisa Hilton and Evelyn Gonzales. Each will provide leadership and athleticism to the team. Hilton, who previously played at Ozarks, was an All-Conference performer from her forward position. "Lisa will be tough for our opponents to mark up on," Bernard said. "She is aggressive and has good speed. Kim will bring a real physical attribute to our team that we haven’t had." Bernard can also count on forward Lindy Swatzell, last season’s ASC East Division Co-Offensive Freshman of the Year, to contribute to the scoring load. Swatzell led the team in goals (6), points (12) and shots (54). She ranked fourth in the conference in shots per game (4.15). Swatzell earned a spot on the ASC All-Conference team and was named first team All-East Division. "Lisa and Lindy are a nice combination up top and they will be creative," said Bernard. "They will open some things up for the midfield." Sophomore Marissa Andrade, who earned second team All-East division a year ago, and Jacky give the Lady Eagles a formidable midfield attack. Senior Leslie Foster and sophomore Shannon Peterson provide the squad with another athletic tandem at the midfield position. Defensively, the team position will be experienced with seniors Anne Obermueller, Kara Carlson and Natalie Mourton, all of whom were starters last season. Sophomore Letty Trevino will provide depth and experience from her defender spot. Three-year starter Jessica Bush returns at goalkeeper. "We’ve changed the way we played defense last year and that took some time for them to get used to," said Bernard. "Through the midfield we need to control the field and maintain possession a lot better this year if we’re going to do well." Bernard has also beefed up this season’s schedule, adding NCAA II opponents University of Central Arkansas and Ouachita Baptist. "We’re playing more games than last year and I added some teams that play at a high level. Playing better teams will help us become more competitive. Because of our improved speed of play, I can see us sneaking up on some teams and coming away with wins." The Lady Eagles open their season with a match against Hendrix College this Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. The match will be played at Hurie Field.