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Friday, January 28, 2022

Soccer

UH confident for turnaround season


After a disappointing 2013-2014 season with an overall record of 1-12-3 and 0-9 in conference play, the UH women’s soccer team is eager to have a bounce-back season and build the foundation toward becoming a top soccer program.

UH joined the American Athletic Conference for the first time last season. After facing their new conference foes, head coach Chris Pfau believes they have learned how to play against those teams — eight of whom are ranked in the Top 100 —and have to learn how to win.

“We are building a top program, and to do that every year, we want to take a step back,” Pfau said. “This year we want to be above .500 in non-conference and try to win our home games in our conference. I believe we now have a foundation of players to build on for a great future, but also realize that to beat some of the best teams in the country, you have to continue to play them. It doesn’t come overnight.”

Part of their excitement comes from having several fresh faces on the team, which associate head coach Suzie Grech thinks gives them more options going forward and enables them to create a core group of girls who understand what they’re trying to get out of each game and how they want to play.

Grech remains encouraging, consistently emphasizing to the players that there is a future, and that they are putting the work in now for the future of the program.

“Last year, we had a great group of players, but we didn’t have that ‘oomph’ going forward,” Grech said. “Now we have players that can go forward and give more support to players like Kayla (Walker) and Alexis Weaver, so that we are not just relying on them versus four backs.”

Senior forward Kayla Walker calls this season “bittersweet” but couldn’t contain her excitement about the team’s vibe and the possibility of doing significantly better this year.

“Last season was a little nerve-racking because the teams in the new conference are really good, but it’s also good because it has heightened our competitiveness.”

In Walker’s final season, she says fans can expect her to play as hard as she can. She wants to create some havoc against the backline and is being looked at to create opportunities that the team wasn’t able to create last year. She also hopes to serve as a role model to her younger teammates and, most importantly, score more goals, which is the overall aspiration for the team.

Although currently in the rebuilding stage, UH remains optimistic. The foundation is planted; they are working towards the future. This season is only the beginning.

“The big thing is creating that legacy and creating those traditions, because what we implement now is going to carry through for the next 10-plus years,” Grech said. “We are trying to create a Top 25 program consistently, and the girls who are doing the work now are building the foundation for it.”

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