By Dave Wagner
PORTALES — Based on the Lone Star Conference preseason poll, expectations are low for the first-year Eastern New Mexico University women’s soccer program.
ENMU coach Travis McCorkle and his players are determined to disprove that notion.
The Zias, who went 1-2 in preseason exhibition matches, open their inaugural season this weekend when they take on Hobbs-based College of the Southwest on Saturday and host Adams State College on Sunday in a three-day, round-robin event in Alamosa, Colo.
“I think we’ve made progress, and the players have made huge progress,” said McCorkle, who came to ENMU after a stint as an assistant coach at LSC rival Angelo State. “We started off in 20 different directions, but now we’re getting on the same page. We’re just trying to get better every day.”
The Zias were picked for last play in the 10-team conference in preseason.
“I think we’ll do really well,” said freshman forward and co-captain Megan Dozier of Midland, Texas. “As a young team (all but one of the 20 players is in the freshman or sophomore class), we’re going to have to step it up. Being a captain is a big responsibility, but since we all get along so well it’s not that hard to step up.”
One of McCorkle’s main concerns is depth, and the Zias may go into this weekend’s matches without several of their players. Freshman midfielder Katie Matthews is not expected to make the trip after sustaining a possible concussion in Saturday’s scrimmage against Lubbock Ice.
Meantime, freshman defenders Kara Henderson (leg) and Christina Alessi (knee) are listed by McCorkle as “questionable.” Freshman midfielder Erin Armstrong (ankle) and Dozier (quad) are just coming back from injuries, he said.
“We’ve just got to hope for the best and make sure we have good chemistry,” Dozier said. “Nobody (opponents) knows who we are. We get a fresh start.”
McCorkle said his goals for the season are to play aggressively and make the LSC tournament, scheduled for early November in Wichita Falls, Texas. The top six teams in the regular season qualify for the tournament.
“Do we have the talent to do that? I think so,” McCorkle said. “For sure, we don’t want to be the last-place team. Our other goals are to show signs of improvement and not just ‘defend’ on the field.”