By Dave Wagner
PORTALES — For a while this season, the Eastern New Mexico University soccer teams will travel the same path.
ENMU’s squads play six doubleheaders over the next three weekends, beginning with matches on Friday at Texas Wesleyan and on Saturday at Dallas Baptist, before going pretty much their separate ways.
The second-year women’s program is confident it can improve on last season’s 3-12 mark (2-7 Lone Star Conference), while the first-year men’s program plunges into the brand-new Southwest Soccer Conference.
Women’s coach Travis McCorkle is technically the head coach for both programs, but since he’s handling many of the administrative duties for both programs, he’s turned most of the on-field responsibilities for the men over to new assistant Carlos Elizondo.
“I’ve really been pleased with the men’s team,” McCorkle said. “They played a club team this weekend (in a scrimmage) and played quite well. I think (Texas Wesleyan and Dallas Baptist) will be close to us in ability.”
Hired in late July, Elizondo said the freshmen-dominated Greyhounds will rely heavily on a handful of transfers.
“I’m excited to see these boys play against a quality team,” Elizondo said. “This weekend will be a good beginning indicator, and will help us get ready for our conference games.”
Senior midfielder Joseph Alvarez, a transfer from West Texas A&M, will be counted on to score some goals, Elizondo said. He added that he’s looking for midfielders Martin Gallegos and Francisco Roman to be able “to control the midfield and change the point of attack.”
Sophomore Leif Craddock, another WT transfer, is slated to start in goal for the Hounds, who were picked for last in the eight-team SSC in preseason.
“Our conference is tough,” Elizondo said. “The schedule should get harder as the season progresses.
“Our expectations are that we go out there and do the best we can, and be able to compete.”
Among eight returning lettermen for the Zias are sophomore forward Megan Dozier, an All-LSC selection and the team leader in scoring in 2003, and sophomore midfielder Anna Funck, an All-LSC second-team selection.
McCorkle said he hopes the Zias are motivated by the fact they were picked for ninth place in the 10-team LSC.
“I know the players have higher expectations,” McCorkle said. “And we’re a better team (than last year), so we should be able to achieve some of those higher expectations.”