Soccer Preps For Season Opening Weekend At Carl Lewis Complex

    The Cougars open up 2006 with two matches at the Carl Lewis Track Complex this weekend.
    The Cougars open up 2006 with two matches at the Carl Lewis Track Complex this weekend.
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    Aug. 24, 2006

    HOUSTON - The University of Houston soccer team, coming off a record-setting season in 2005, has closed out preseason preparations and faces two matches this weekend as the 2006 campaign begins.

    The Cougars will open up against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns at 7 p.m. Friday. To close out the opening weekend, UH takes on Baylor at 1 p.m. Sunday. Due to ongoing construction at Robertson Stadium, both matches have been moved to the Carl Lewis International Track Complex. The field was the site of the Houston Dynamo's 3-0 win over FC Dallas in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play earlier this week.

    Parking will be available in lot 15H, immediately north of the Carl Lewis Complex.

    Ten letterwinners and six returning starters will combine with 13 newcomers on this season's squad. Of the returners, Sophia Mundy (Sr.-MF), Courtney Gaines (So.-MF) and Sarah Fisher (Sr.-F) lead the way. That trio combined for 20 of UH's 41 goals last season with Mundy knocking in a single-season record mark of 13.

    Mundy was named the Conference USA Preseason Offensive Player of the Year on Aug. 17, the first time a UH player has won that award. She established herself as one of the top players in C-USA last season, set single-season records for goals (14), points (33) and shots (95) in her first season with the Cougars, earning All-C-USA First Team and NSCAA/adidas All-Central Region Third Team honors. She also participated in a training camp for the U.S. U-21 Women's National Team, the first-ever UH player to do so.

    On the eve of the opener with the Ragin' Cajuns, seventh-year UH head coach Bill Solberg sat down with for a Q&A about the upcoming campaign.

    1. How are you feeling with the close of two-a-days and the season just a day away?

    "I think the entire coaching staff and team are excited for Friday's match. It's been a long preseason and these kids are anxious to play an actual game. As a staff, we are anxious to gauge where we are at before heading into the rest of the season."

    2. There were a number of position battles that were unsettled heading into camp. Are you any closer to being able to name a starting 11?

    "Things are starting to shake out and the players who worked hard over the summer to come in fit are finding themselves getting a chance on the starting 11. There are some newcomers stepping up who want to impact this program immediately as well. We also have some upperclassmen, seniors in particular that want to go being remembered for the best season yet."

    3. Which of the newcomers jumped out at you as being ready to play?

    "There were three or four players who decided to come into the preseason extremely fit. Those players are finding success with the starting lineup early on. A lot of that is a tribute to their club coaches working with them all summer to ensure they would be ready. Currently, players like Jordy (Godbolt), Ali (Conrad), Alex (Terry), Brenna (Welch), (Stephanie) Masci, and Nikki (Echeverria) seem to be getting comfortable with the team and surroundings.

    4. The soccer team recently partnered with the Glenn Davis Soccer Hour, which airs weekly on ESPN 790. In terms of local impact, how big of a boost will that be to the team?

    "First off, Glenn is an incredible ambassador of the game. What he has been able to to for the city of Houston and soccer awareness is immearsureable. We are thrilled to be partnered with him in that we are able to reach an incredible amount of "soccer people" through his radio show and column in the Houston Chronicle.

    5. The injury bug has bitten UH pretty hard during the preseason. How has that effected your planning for the season's opening weekend?

    "We have about eight or nine players injured right now so that has effected training and fitness just a bit. That is what the season is all about, overcoming adversity. In order for us to be a better team we have to be a deeper team as well. Even with the injured players being out, it just means other players are being given the opportunity to step up and earn a spot.

    6. When a player like Sophia Mundy wins a preseason award as C-USA's top-offensive player, how does that impact the rest of the team?

    "I think the team is excited for her. I think they also see it as a team award. Any time any player gets recognition, it's great for the team and the University of Houston. Each and every player on this team is taught to work for each other, and work to make each other look good. I think this prediction can only come true if we as a team work to make each other look good, then the pieces will fall into place."

    7. How important is this opening weekend for a young team like the 2006 squad? In a coaches eyes, can an entire season be won or lost with the first game?

    "I think it is important to get a collegiate game under the belt for the newcomers. It's a long season, so it's not fair to say this weekend's games will make or break our season. We want to win as many games as possible and make our hometown and administration proud. We need to take it a game at a time and go from there. Right now, no one game is more important than the next. If you win your first or third game they both go in the win column and that's what we are trying to do, win as many games as possible."

    8. One of your team philosophies is to outwork the other team to get a result in each and every match. Does this team have that blue-collar mentality?

    "We are starting to get the blue collar mentality. It's a process we continue to instill in them everyday. We were able to win several games last year because we outworked the other team. I hate losing more than anybody on this planet but if the effort is there day in and day out the results should take care of itself."



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