VALDOSTA, Ga. – Valdosta State soccer kicks off its second season by hosting Coker at 8 p.m. Friday at the VSU Soccer Complex. The Blazers are primed and ready to go after a stellar opening season in 2011.
Valdosta State fought its way to the Gulf South Conference Championship match, but fell short in its first season. It’s fair to say that the team is ready to push through this season.
“We have sharpened our game this season,” said Head Coach Mel Heinz. “Last year we were a team that did plenty of hard work and gave effort. This year, we’d like to match that with smarter decisions going forward and talent in playmaking.”
The team does have a few playmakers headed into this season. Both forward Rebecca Miller and defender Arielle Sabina led the team in assists last season with three each. Miller added four goals to lead the team in points with 11.
Valdosta State finished the year second in the GSC in shutouts last season and proved to be a strong defensive team, but Heinz is looking for more goals this season.
For that, she’ll have to rely on Miller in the front along with forwards Blakely McClellan (four goals and two assists in 2011), Morgan Cutts (three goals), Sydney Smith, Shelby Widergren, Lauren Ingram and newcomers Danielle White and Erin Hill.
Hill is a freshman that has impressed early in the preseason along with midfielders Rebecca Bonilla and Reanne Harris.
Returners that have showed up strong in the preseason include Sabina, Miller, goalkeeper Olivia Mills and midfielder Karly Lentz. The three have shown vast improvements in not only the physical aspects of the game but the mental side as well.
Three other veterans that have put in the hard work required to do well are junior midfielder Emily Cooper, sophomore midfielder Abbi Edwards and sophomore defender Caroline Moore.
A team that battled all the way to the bitter end last season has bolstered up with eight newcomers and no starters lost. Watch out for the VSU Blazers in 2012. They start it off with Coker at 8 p.m. Friday at the VSU Soccer Complex.