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Warrior women set sights on NCAA tourney
csus womens soccer pic2
The CSU Stanislaus womens soccer team prepares for their first game this weekend at practice on Wednesday. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ / The Journal

After multiple winning seasons, including three consecutive postseason appearances, finishing the 2012 season with a 15-4 record and being ranked as high as number six in the nation, the CSU Stanislaus women’s soccer team feels confident that this is the year that they overcome their first round elimination slump.

“We had a great season last year,” Stanislaus head coach Gabriel Bolton said. "We were disappointed we didn’t go into the NCAA tournament despite our great record, but on the other hand, we feel we have some unfinished business because we felt like we could’ve gone a long way in the NCAA tournament. We just have to do better this year.”

The Warriors lost in the first round of the California Collegiate Athletic Association playoffs for their third straight season, falling to national champion UC San Diego, 2-1.

In spite of a great record, Stanislaus was unable to make it to the NCAA tournament because the team failed to meet the criteria that the selection committee set, Bolton said.

“I think it is about taking one game at a time, not taking anything for granted...I think we took for granted that we were having a great season and thought it would go on forever, but you don’t realize that it can be over quickly and need to keep focus and it is something we will do this year,” Bolton said.

With the help of three-time all American Karenee Demery, the Warriors feel confident that their star senior will help lead one of the most talented teams in the CCAA to a title, and perhaps an NCAA tournament berth.

“I am more than confident in this team and I expect great things for our entire team,” Demery said. “I have been working my butt off so I can be in the best shape I have ever been this year. We have some great forwards around me, so if I’m making runs to the corner and dragging defenders away I am doing my job if that’s what it takes to leave one of our forwards one on one and if that happens the opposing team will be in big trouble; as long as the result is a win, I could care less.”

The senior cast leading the way alongside Demery will be starting left back Emily Relles, who led the conference in assists last year with 12 and is an excellent player overall. Allie Dugan, who plays forward, will also be a huge asset. April Whitney at the midfield will be a key contributor and Allison Case, who is coming back from an injury.

“It’s a very good group we have this year. The most successful group in the history of the program after going to three consecutive postseasons, and that started with them, our seniors this year,” Bolton said. “We’re very excited and enthusiastic about this year and hopefully we can live up to our expectations this upcoming season.”

Along with the help of seven juniors and nine sophomores, will be the assistance of a handful of freshmen such as Mikayla Clifford, Maryssa McDuffy and Turlock High recent graduate Nicole Larson, who will make immediate impacts.

“There are a number of players coming in that will contribute as freshmen, considering we have a dozen,” Bolton said. “Expectations are always high. Our goal and expectation is to play good soccer and enjoy the game and play a certain attractive attacking style. We don’t ever really talk about winning or losing or setting goals for wins, because I think that’s just limiting.”

The Warriors tip off their 2013 season at 7 p.m. today against Dominican at Warriors Stadium.