Clarksville, Ark.-The U of O women's soccer team should see vast improvement in 2013 according to Head Coach Bryan Drotar.
The Lady Eagles return nearly every starter for the 2013 campaign, including the team’s top two goal scorers. A solid junior class has also emerged to lead the up-and-coming program.
“I think statistically we will be better in every category,” said Drotar. “There is a general excitement and passion this season. The team feels like they are preparing to win instead of just going out on the field practicing. Tactically, we have to come together, but I do think we will be better on the attacking side and defending side this season. The junior class is beginning to develop into leaders and will be ready to go.”
The defense will be led by three-year starting defender Monica Seiler. Even though Seiler is anchoring the backline, the other spots are up in the air.
“Monica is probably our most consistent player on the field,” said Drotar. “We know what to expect from her every match. She understands her role and her work ethic is very high. But we have spots open in the back four. There is a little bit of uncertainty there.”
Goalkeeper Mary Eoff returns after starting 17 matches last season, but will be pushed by fellow sophomore Codie Freeman.
“We will be very strong in goal,” said Drotar. “Both are competing for the spot.”
Ozarks finished 1-17-0 last season and scored just 11 goals, but Drotar believes his offensive attack is much improved. Sophomore forward Haley Gilliam produced a spectacular freshman season with six goals and one assist in 2012. Junior forward MaKenna Piha scored a pair of goals and contributed two assists. Joining Gilliam up front could be sophomore Hannah Carter. A pair of newcomers, Frances Adams and Vicky Romero, have also displayed a knack for scoring goals.
“Haley now has a year of experience,” said Drotar. “Hannah could play forward and Frances and Vicky can add goals, too. We have depth at the forward.”
Junior Brooke Tralmer adds another creative option for the Lady Eagles.
“We are in the process of moving Brooke from center back to a center mid,” said Drotar. “She will have a lot more freedom to exercise her gifts as a player.”
Drotar believes a competitive spirit among the players has increased the team’s energy and new perspective this season.
“The competition is high for spots,” said Drotar. “There is a whole new level of energy on the team. The team’s positive attitude has been contagious.”
Drotar also noted that his team has a good mix of veterans and younger players.
“We have been really young the past two seasons, but this year the team is a good mix,” he said. “We have four new players that will challenge for playing time on the field. We need to decide who is in the backline and tactically to straighten out our defense. That will be key for us.”
The Lady Eagles will open the season August 30 against Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge.