Last year the California State University, Stanislaus women’s soccer team brought home the CCAA championship, finishing the season with an overall record of 11-4-6 and a conference record of 8-4-4. Although the Warriors enter this season without three of their most productive players from last year’s team, an experienced field and a highly athletic freshmen class have head coach Gabriel Bolton thinking repeat.
“All three were good solid players but we have a really great core coming back,” Bolton said. “We have a really talented group; it’s probably the fastest group we’ve ever had here.”
The bulk of that group consists of eight returners, five of which are seniors. The championship experience afforded to the team by the returners has made for a smoother process as Bolton reorganizes the team’s dynamic before the season kicks off.
One of those returners, second year captain and senior Alexis Poon, has been flexing her leadership qualities on the practice field, helping new comers fit into the program and motivating the rest to strive for perfection.
“I’m looking forward to a great season, defending our title, and making it to the national championship and trying to win that,” Poon said. “I’m so happy I get to spend my last season with this team. I want to play for them and end this season with a bang.”
Poon’s skills will be much needed. Last year’s second best scorer, former NSCAA Region and All-CCAA team member will need to improve alongside her teammates if they are to fend off the rest of the teams the CCAA has to offer. In the past four years at least one CCAA women’s soccer team has made it to the Final Four Tournament.
“It’s the toughest conference in the country,” Bolton said. “Not only that, but the winner also has to come out of the Western Region, which is the toughest region in the nation, so it’s extremely competitive.”
Included on the roster is Turlock’s own Macie Ireland who is expected to be a factor this season as the Warriors chase the CCAA title.
“She’s doing a fantastic job,” Bolton said of Ireland. “The other freshmen are playing really well too. There’s no question this is the fittest group of freshmen we’ve had. They’re fit and ready to play and they’re all competing for playing time.”
Stanislaus’ first CCAA match takes place on Aug. 25 against Notre Dame de Namur in Belmont. The first home game of the season will be played against Cal State Dominguez Hills on Sept. 9.
“We learned a lot from last year’s experience,” Bolton said. “The team is really excited and we all have high expectations.”