Roundtable: Predicting the soccer team’s performance
Coming off a season in which the team went just 4-13, the The Cougar sports staff believes there should be raised expectations for the team in 2016, which will begin with a matchup against Texas Southern University on Aug. 19 at the Carl Lewis Complex.
Nicholas Williamson, staff writer:
After ending the 2015 season on a nine-game losing streak against all conference opponents, the Cougars are obvious underdogs entering 2016. However, women’s soccer did start 2015 with 1-4 record and strung together a three-game winning streak early in the season.
Last season was a step in the right direction after back-to-back losing seasons. The Cougars can continue to make improvements in the upcoming season by relying on team-leading scorers Desiree Bowen, Lexa Green and Selena Peters. Bowen, who was selected to the 2015 American Athletic Conference All-Rookie team, is expected to lead the charge for the Cougars.
Supporters should be optimistic about the upcoming season. During the nine-game losing streak in 2015, seven games were lost by one goal. As the players continue to develop their skills and chemistry, the Cougars will be able to close games more effectively.
I predict an improvement in the overall record for the Cougars. This will be the season where some consistency begins to appear and result in a 4-4 conference finish.
Jonathan Valadez, assistant sports editor:
I can see the Cougars winning five non-conference games in 2016 by beating Texas A&M University—Corpus Christi and the University of the Incarnate Word, both of whom they defeated in 2015. They will also win against the University of Texas—San Antonio, Texas Southern University and New Mexico State University.
Since joining the American Athletic Conference, UH has not won a conference game. Last season, they lost seven games by a single goal, but in four of those games, the Cougars did not score and only posted four goals in conference play altogether.
A reason they were able to keep so many games close last year was because of their goalie Jordan Brown, who had a .726 save percentage.
Brown graduated after the season, but redshirt sophomore and transfer Rachel Estopare should be considered the front runner for the job. During her last year at the University of Arizona, Estopare had a .744 save percentage as a part-time goalie for her team.
On the bright side, Desiree Bowen was able to score four goals on only eight attempts while logging just 390 minutes. After receiving American Conference’s All-Rookie Team honors, expect the sophomore to log more minutes and provide a much-needed punch to an offense that has been lethargic in recent years.
The Cougars should be able to get their first conference win against Southern Methodist University, but that’s the only team, on paper, that they can beat. I believe UH will finish the season with a 6-10 record.
Reagan Earnst, sports editor:
The key for soccer this season will be to become a more cohesive unit. With only three seniors on the roster for 2016, the Cougars will need their juniors’ help to fill the leadership void. The juniors and seniors on the team have been through it all in their time at UH, and they are looking to find the success that has eluded them in their careers.
Junior Selena Peters is poised to have a breakout season. After being a co-leader in goals scored last year, Peters has a chance to improve upon that mark.
The Cougars have a light non-conference schedule lined up for 2016, but will have their hands full when the conference play rolls around. Although they have struggled mightily since joining the American Conference, it is regarded as one of the nation’s top conferences for women’s soccer.
Soccer will not have to travel as much in 2016. The Cougars’ schedule features nine home games compared to just seven on the road, three of which will be played in Texas.
Finding consistency in their offense and defense will be the top priority for the Cougars in the upcoming season. All four of their wins came in shutout fashion in 2015. However, they were shutout in losses nine times.
Overall, I predict soccer will continue to trend upward in and finish 2016 with a 6-6-3 record.