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Saturday, June 3, 2023


Soccer to use spring season to build toward future

The soccer team struggled at times during the 2017 season, but with a young returning core and a talented coach in his second year, the team should only improve. | File photo/The Cougar

The women’s soccer team is a little over two weeks away from starting its spring season.

The Cougars will be going up against teams from schools such as UTSA, Texas A&M and Sam Houston State. After bringing the women’s team to its best overall record in seven years, with a 7-9-1 season, head coach Diego Bocanegra’s team should be looking to use the spring season to build toward the future.

Coach Bocanegra’s first year at the helm was a productive one, as the former Notre Dame Fighting Irish assistant coach instilled an offense that had its best scoring rate since 2010. The Cougars’ offense was explosive with 29 goals and 23 assists.

A huge part of the offense was freshman forward Jazmin Grant, who finished her debut season with five goals and five assists. Grant earned a spot on the AAC All-Rookie team and a call up to Jamaica’s U-20 National Team camp for her play.

“The experience was great, playing with international players, it really helped with my confidence,” Grant said.

Sophomore defender Julissa DePaoli was also an important part of the team, leading from the back in her 17 appearances, 14 as a starter. In a display of hard work, she went from playing only 45 minutes her freshman year to being a regular starter. DePaoli received the team’s Most Improved Player award for her efforts.

While the team had a good first season under a new coach, there is still room for improvement.

“One big thing is in games, always staying positive, not bringing each other down, instead of being negative being positive,”  DePaoli said about the team’s mentality when facing adversity.

There are individual improvements to be made for these two. Grant said she is focusing on her first touch to get around defenders, while DePaoli noticed that her communication and talking on the field could use some work.

With forwards Selena Peters and Hannah Dauzat now graduated, the team will have to find ways to replace their offensive production. Peters and Dauzat combined for 13 goals and 4 assists in 2017. But the team isn’t too worried about the goals they will take with them.

“We have many good offensive players coming in, and Jazmin will also be important,” DePaoli said.

This team is on an upward trajectory. With coach Bocanegra having more time with the team and a whole year under his belt, it seems likely he will improve.

“I think we’re getting better, each year we’re improving, and this year will be our best yet,” DePaoli said.

The soccer team’s first game is on March 3 against Houston Baptist at the Carl Lewis Complex.

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