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Friday, January 21, 2022

Soccer

Cougars expect experience to guide them through conference play


The Cougars have 11 seniors who could help the team leap over the challenges of conference play this season.   | File photos/The Daily Cougar

The Cougars have 11 seniors who could help the team leap over the challenges of conference play this season. | File photos/The Daily Cougar

The Cougars began their season with a 1-1-1 record and will face Cal State Northridge on Friday in Northridge, Calif. The game starts a three-game road trip that involves matchups with San Diego State and Houston Baptist Universities.

Northridge and San Diego State are teams within the top 25 in the nation. The Cougars’ matchup against No. 27 in the nation, Stephen F. Austin University, resulted in a double-overtime draw at 0-0.

“I think we got better against Stephen F. Austin,” said head coach Chris Pfau.  “To be able to get a tie from them shows that we can play with some of the top teams if we show up.”

The upcoming road trip is going to test the team’s preparation and progress.

“I think our defending is good and our team shape is good,” Pfau said.  “We need now to focus on rhythm of play and keeping the ball better.  We are waiting for things to happen instead of making them happen.”

Junior forward Kelsey Zamora said the team has made big improvements since their exhibition games and the beginning of the season.

“I see us as hungry and excited about the new conference and the challenges that are ahead,” Zamora said.  “As the team has progressed, we’ve gotten in better shape physically and mentally.”

With 11 seniors, some of the players have been together for several years, and the team’s chemistry gives the Cougars an edge against their opponents, Zamora said.

“A lot of programs get caught up in the individual and forget that this is a team game,” Zamora said.  “We never forget our teammates and the importance of loyalty to each other.”

For the seniors, the Cougars have a sense of urgency that produces a stronger will to work together and win. They want to prove that they and the team have gotten better in one last season together, Pfau said.

“We have 11 seniors that are very different and all have different personalities,” Coach Pfau said.  “They all do come together on the field and become one.”

Because of their experience and leadership, the Cougars believe they can win every game on their schedule.

“We have to continue to work hard and keep our mental focus,” Zamora said. “We have to buy into our talent, our team and our university.”

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