The Lady Blazer soccer team had a great first season, but now with most of the players returning from last year’s squad and some key newcomers, their sights are set high.
Coach Melissa Heinz was positive when comparing this year’s team to the 2011 team.
“More experience and a better understanding of what we want to achieve,” Coach Heinz, said.
With 21 freshmen on last year’s team, the Lady Blazers found themselves in the Gulf Coast Conference championship game. Balanced offense was the driving force last year, as 14 different Lady Blazers found the back of the net ,11 of which are returning in 2012
Coach Heinz addressed the defense in the offseason, bringing in freshman defenders and midfielders, Kim Caitlin Alderman, Rebecca Bonilla, Shelby Jennings and Arista Hott, while adding to the offense with forwards Erin Hill and Reanne Harris.
Led by pre-season All Gulf South Conference members Arielle Sabina and Abbi Edwards, the Lady Blazers kick off the season Friday at home against Coker.
The players have not only set team goals, but individually as well.
“Not only work hard but work smart,” Abbi Edwards, a sophomore mid-fielder, said. “Be a smart player off the field. We just want to succeed every game, we want to win every game and to accomplish something every time we play.”
Other key games this season include their first conference game on Sept.7 at Delta State, a showdown on Sept.21 at home versus Gulf South Conference favorites and defending champion North Alabama, and a tough test at West Florida on Oct. 14
Compared to last year, the Blazers will go on a lot longer trips this season.
“The traveling is going to be a lot more on them,” Heinz said. “We are doing a lot more longer trips because our conference games are farther and they are back to back so we are going to be going on 10-12 hour trips one week and then doing it again the next week.”
The incoming freshmen are led by Alderman from Macon, Hott from Woodstock and Jennings from Suwanee–all on the 2012 Top Newcomers list in the Gulf Coast Conference.
Freshman Kim Caitlin Alderman, from First Presbyterian Day High School, has been impressed with many things at VSU.
“The facilities and how the training sessions are run, the coaching staff and the older players are really helping us get into it.” Alderman said.
The team looks to play with more chemistry as they become increasingly comfortable with each other this season.
“I’m excited about playing with each other,” sophomore Edwards said. “ The team comradery is my favorite so I love just playing with each other and getting to know each other on and off the field.”
A 21-14 second half scoring edge in 2011 games gives the Lady Blazers confidence that they have the athletes and pressure offense that can wear down opponents.
In their inaugural first season the Lady Blazers surprised many. Now, voted to finish 3rd in the Gulf South Conference, they are poised to do it again.