@LATechSOC Season Outlook
Aug. 12, 2015
RUSTON -- The Louisiana Tech soccer team may be Lady Techsters, but their inner Bulldog came out twice this past season with two historic victories resulting in two elated dogpiles.
The first one came at home in the regular season finale when a golden goal in overtime against Florida Atlantic clinched the program’s first spot in the Conference USA Tournament.
The next one came six days later in the quarterfinals when a 4-2 edge on penalty kicks versus No. 3 seed UTEP sealed the upset and the program’s first ever postseason victory.
All of this happened despite losing four of the first five league matches. A hard-fought 2-0 win at Old Dominion was the match that ended up turning the season around. The Techsters went on to post a 4-0-1 mark in the second half of the C-USA schedule to qualify for the tourney.
LA Tech ended up registering a 13-6-3 record, the second most wins ever in a single season.
Even better news is that almost the entire starting XI returns for 2015, joining forces with eight newcomers to make up what will arguably be the strongest and deepest squad ever assembled on the Lady Techster Soccer Complex.
Top strikers are hard to find at any level of the game and having depth at the forward position is something LA Tech has not had in past seasons … until now.
Leading the pack is junior Kathryn Sloan who is coming off a standout season, being named second team All-Conference USA, NSCAA All-Central Region third team and the Louisiana Player of the Year. She led the team in points (28) and goals (11), becoming just the third Techster to record double-digit goals in a single season.
Joining forces with Sloan up top is senior Donya Salomon-Ali who earned third team All-CUSA honors and junior Kailee Hervey, both of which are excellent at playing the ball in the air. The duo combined to score nine goals.
“What makes me break out in goose bumps with excitement is the fact that this group will now be added to with the inclusion of Mylene Roy-Ouellet, Mariah Rojas, Kaitlyn Cunningham and Emma Mele,” head coach Kevin Sherry said. “Mylene is a power house of a striker, Mariah has a knack for scoring goals, Kaitlyn has pure speed and Emma is wing player with high-level dribbling skills.”
This new group will join forces with the seasoned group to provide a loaded front line with multiple skill sets to be used at coach Sherry’s disposal.
Technical players are a necessity in the midfield for LA Tech and the rock at this position – Brittany Beddow – for the past three years returns for her senior season.
Beddow was named first team All-Louisiana last year after accounting for seven goals and eight assists, a mark which tied the program record for most in a single season. It was her left foot that delivered the game-winning goal to send the team to Charlotte, N.C. for the conference tournament.
There’s more depth returning and being added to the midfield, including one of the players to watch for this upcoming season in junior college transfer Moriah Phillips (better known as Yaya) who could be the missing jigsaw piece to elevate the position even more so.
“Yaya is an intelligent player, strong in the tackle and positive to drive forward,” Sherry said. “It will be one of the highlights of the season seeing how she combines with the likes of Brittany Beddow, Lisanne Kleygrewe and Annabel Prior in the central area.”
There is also senior Annie Armstrong and her endless energy to fit in the picture. Annie was named to the C-USA All-Tournament team for her equalizer against UTEP.
Throw in experienced returners Erica Stewart, Keely Davis and Sarah Gifford who have all made great improvements in the last year, and the addition of Lady Tiriat from the recruiting class and you now have a dynamic midfield.
Last season’s back line helped produce nine shutouts, four of which came in the last five games of the regular season during league play.
The defensive line is probably the most inexperienced section of the team, but what they lack in experience they more than make up for with determination, effort and ability.
Shouldering the majority of responsibility at the back will be senior Laura LeFevour and junior Madison Doll as well as returners Haley Laque, Olivia Millington and Monica Gebler who saw plenty of playing time in their freshman campaigns last year.
“We have a solid group returning, but we have added to it with our incoming class bringing in more strength, athleticism and technical skill,” Sherry said. “I am excited to see how big an impact Makenna Johnson will have as she is someone we hope will form a good partnership with Madison. The inclusion of freshman Kendall Ayers will also provide the line a better balance because of her being a strong left-footed player.”
This group of Lady Techsters is strong, but when you add in two players returning from injury in the form of Charity Simmons and Taylor Douglas, you know you have a very strong group who will be tough to break down.
Returning in net is junior Kylee Seto who had 19 appearances with 18 starts this past season, accumulating a 10-6-3 record which helped her earn All-Louisiana honorable mention honors in her first full year as keeper.
Seto improved immensely as the season progressed, producing four clean sheets in the last five league games. She ended up allowing no more than one goal in nine of the 10 C-USA matches.
The key position did take a hit though when backup Anna Lensing decided to return home to Germany, leaving a hole at such a key spot.
Coach Sherry and assistant coach Josh Wagenaar were then presented the task of finding a replacement since it is crucial to two top goalkeepers on the team to help push each other.
“The recruitment of Jezabelle Rubalcava was very important,” Sherry said. “Faith Washington and Maren Kreid have been working very hard, but it is still very early in their development so it was essential we brought someone in to push Kylee for that starting spot.”
LA Tech opens the regular season on Friday Aug. 21 at ULM with kickoff set for 5:30 p.m. It will be only the second meeting between the two teams separated by just 30 minutes of interstate. The home opener follows on Sunday against Lamar at 1 p.m. at the Lady Techster Soccer Complex.
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