McNeese Soccer Opens 2013 Season At Home Against Jacksonville St - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

McNeese Soccer Opens 2013 Season At Home Against Jacksonville State

The McNeese soccer team officially kicks off the 2013-14 athletic season on Friday night at 7 p.m. when the Cowgirls host Jacksonville State at Cowgirl Field.

"We're really excited to finally get going tomorrow night," said head coach Scooter Savoie. "Any preseason situation seems like it just drags on trying to reach that first game. We are really excited to get to beat up on someone else other than ourselves. Our players have had a great preseason and have improved a lot since the first day."

The home opener will be the first of six straight home games. The Cowgirls will face Jackson State on Sunday and will also have key match-ups with Texas State and Louisiana Tech during the stretch.

"I think it's going to be a great thing to have six-straight games at home to start the season," said Savoie. "Certainly, all good teams win at home so hopefully we will be able to establish that goal pretty early. If you win at home then you are going to have a good chance to challenge for the top of the league."

McNeese returns five of 11 starters from a year ago, and also brings back 13 letterwinners from a team that advanced to the Southland Conference Tournament. The Cowgirls also welcome 10 freshmen and one transfer.

Returning offensively for the Cowgirls is last season's leading scorer Haley Lyons, who netted five goals, including her first career hat trick against Prairie View A&M. Junior Tori Lasiter will also look to gain more playing time as the season progresses.

"We are going to have a good amount step up for us this season," said Savoie. "We are really looking for Tori Lasiter to do a good job for us up top or in the midfield. Freshman Kendall Vardell is going to get an opportunity to play early and show what she has. She has done well in preseason so we are looking for her to step up early.

Defensively for McNeese, Seniors Callie Allbright and Megan Snelling look to lead the way. Allbright, who scored the tying goal in last season's game against Jacksonville State, helped spark a season-high four-game unbeaten streak for the Cowgirls.

"I think we are pretty ready, we have been working really hard these past few weeks to get game ready and to get out mind set right for tomorrow," said Allbright. "It going to be really exciting to open the season at home so hopefully we will get some fans out to come watch a really competitive game."

Sophomore Sarah Bricker who saw action in all 20 games last season will also look to step up in a key role for the McNeese defense.

"The key to your success is your backline and Sarah Bricker has a good understanding on what we want out of that line," said Savoie.

Jacksonville State returns seven starters from last season after posting an 8-10-2 overall record and a 3-5 mark in conference action season. The Gamecocks return their top two leading scorers from last year's team in sophomore Kelsey Bright and junior Courtney Hurt.

"It's going to be a competitive game with Jacksonville State," said Savoie. "They had some great athletes last season. They are under the direction of a new coach but the player's are gonna make the plays regardless so it's going to be a tough battle.

The Cowgirls all-time are 0-2-1 against Jacksonville State, including the team's last meeting a year ago, when the teams ended the game in a 1-1 tie after two overtimes. The two teams met for the first time in the 1997 season in Jacksonville, and the Gamecocks came away with the 2-0 win. This will be the second all-time meeting in Lake Charles, between the two sides.

McNeese continue its homestand against Jackson State on Sunday, Aug. 25. Game time is set for a 1 p.m. start.

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