LAKE CHARLES – The sweltering heat of a Louisiana morning in August signaled the beginning of pre-season drills for the McNeese women's soccer team as it began preparations for the start of the 2014 season set to kick off on Aug. 22.
Members of the Cowgirl squad reported to campus Tuesday to fill out paperwork and undergo physical examinations before beginning practice on Wednesday. The team is expected to begin three-a-days on Thursday.
"I thought we had a great first session with the team this morning," said head coach Scooter Savoie. "Our girls came out and hustled as a team and did everything we expected of them."
McNeese returns 16 letterwinners from the 2013 season and will also welcome back 9 of the 11 recurring starters from last year's squad.
Among those returning is the leading scorer from last year, senior Tori Lasiter, who led the team in goals (5), points (10), shots (34), on goal (13) and four game-winners.
"We were very excited to get the season underway today and begin working towards our goals this season," said Lasiter. "We had a great practice this morning and the newcomers are doing well. We are pumped up and ready for the first game to get here."
McNeese welcomed 10 newcomers to the team. Among the new faces were Hailey Ardoin, Kelley Clancey, Janice Coley, Shannon Connolly, Gabi D'Alesandro, Brianna Lovett, Sarah Ortiz, Nickie Schaaf, Sierra Sisco and Taylor Trent.
"Our freshmen did a great job in the opening session and are excited about them as a class," said Savoie. "This class is unique in that they come from all over the country and bring a lot of diversity and different playing styles that helps our squad prepare for the season.
The Cowgirls open up the season at home against Prairie View A&M on Aug. 22 and Houston on Aug. 24. Other key non-conference match-ups include a three-game road stretch at Louisiana-Lafayette, Jackson State and Texas-San Antonio before returning home to take on Southern on Sept. 12 and Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 14.
Conference play opens with a home match against Nicholls on Sept. 19 before hitting the road to take on defending Southland Conference Tournament champions Southeastern Louisiana. McNeese will also host three-time defending regular season champions Stephen F. Austin on Oct. 10 before facing off against in-state rival Northwestern State on Oct. 12.
"Our goal right now is to find the identity of our team and chose our style of play in order to match up against our opponents," said Savoie. "Our performance goals for the season are obviously to make it to the conference tournament and competing for the regular season title not just during games but during practice as well.
For the first time in program history, admission to all home games will be free courtesy of the Lake Charles American Press.
by Hunter Bower