Aug. 23 – JAMEStown – After reaching three consecutive GPAC Tournament appearances, the University of Jamestown women’s soccer team is using this season as a rebuilding year.
“I think we have a young squad and hopefully we can make it similar to what we had in the past.” Jimmy said head coach Nick Baker. “I think the number one thing we want to see is we want to see a team that can play good football and the important thing about that is we have to understand what the standard and the pace look like. So we have to get them to that level. We work hard as a group and hopefully They play fast, their speed of play, their speed of thinking is something we’ve been emphasizing for about two weeks.”
Nine players graduated from last year’s roster. The Jimmies lost the top five scorers from last year’s squad who scored 33 of their 52 total goals.
“Gabi (Sarkis) has been a fruitful year for us,” Baker said. “In the last 12 games, I’ve scored a goal every game. So, that was a big piece that we were counting on, without her it’s difficult now. But I think we’ve got some attacking players, once everyone is healthy and fit, I think there’s a group of players in Wide areas can fill those gaps for us, as last year you didn’t want to rely on two or three players to score goals.I think in the past we had many players who scored goals and we want to get back to that stage where teams can’t mark one player .”
The Jimmies’ highest returner is fifth-year Riley Bedard who scored three goals and five assists. In order to have a great season, Bédard said she had to leave everything on the field.
“(I’m) looking forward to doing it a lot this year,” Bedard said. “I hope to play an attacking role this year, play an attacking role, push forward and try to score some goals this year, that’s definitely my goal.”
Heading into the season, the Jimmies were picked to win the GPAC in the preseason conference poll. Jimmies falls just outside the top 25 in the NAIA preseason poll after receiving votes.
Baker said his team’s goals for the season are to win the regular season conference title and conference championship and reach the national championship.
“They’re looking for this big team, to do that two years in a row, and to do that is a challenge in itself and we’ve done it,” Becker said. “But I think this year is going to be more of a challenge because the likes of Hastings (Nebraska), they were right behind us and beat us in the conference final; Briar Cliff (yeahThey beat us in the final, they are right behind us. So, I think these teams are working harder to beat us, and then Concordia (Nebraska) got a new coach.”
During Bédard’s career, Jamie’s team was tied at 0-1 in the National Championship. But Bédard said she wanted to help secure the team’s first-ever championship win.
“Hopefully we can get as far as we can, get past the first round, win our conference, and move on,” Bedard said. “I think a lot of the girls are really starting to learn and understand how important that is to us older players, the few we have left. But I think we can do it. I think as long as we keep working hard and remember our habits, and play as a team, we’ll be fine.”
Through training camp, Baker said he saw great strides forward from Briana Ottle, Alyssa Catton, Kayla Yamada and Hilary Hernandez.
Following the departure of former graduate assistant Gareth Corrigan, Baker’s staff includes student assistant Aida Roldan and graduate assistant Keanan Ing, who works with the men’s and women’s soccer team goalkeepers.
This season is the last chance for Bedard’s son, Jess, to get a chance to watch his mom on the soccer field.
“He talks about it all the time,” Bedard said. “He talks about seeing me there and saying, ‘Go mom. Go record it.'” So, I mean, I love playing with him and it’s really nice to have this opportunity to see me for another year and understand what’s going on there.”
The Jimmies open their season at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, August 23, when they take on Missouri Valley College.
“They’re a good team,” Becker said. “They move the ball well. They are very technical and I think they have to bounce back. They were beaten by William Carey (Mississippi) 6-1, who was a national champion two years ago, was beaten in the semifinals last year. … though Missouri Valley managed to score a goal on them and create a bunch of chances as well. So, I think defensively we have to be healthy and not chase the ball.”