Expectations are high as fall camp opens for a Sam Houston soccer squad that returns 10-of-11 starters. The Bearkats are looking to improve upon a 6-6 league record and appearance in the semifinals of the Southland Conference tournament a year ago.
“We definitely think we can be at the top of the lot. We have high expectations,” head coach Tom Brown said. “But more importantly the team has high expectations of what they want. They will definitely demand that we are training them at the level that will prepare them for reaching their goals.”
Brown’s squad will test themselves early with tough exhibition games against Baylor and Houston before opening the season at home against Louisiana-Lafayette, Aug. 22 at 6:30 p.m.
Brown was pleased with the way his team looked during the first practice session of the season.
“We’re definitely excited to get out and I know the players are happy to be back working together. We did a lot of technical work today and did a little bit of playing just to work on the endurance. We always expect things to be a bit hectic in the first training session because they’re just trying to get things sorted out. Overall the level of the players and the team is very good so we’re excited,” Brown said.
The squad is filled with upperclassmen, featuring six seniors and eight juniors. There will be just four newcomers to this season’s team, including a junior transfer.
The team’s leading goal scorers from the last two seasons return. Last season midfielder Mariah Titus bagged eight goals while Katie Ferrara led the Kats with four in 2012.
Junior goalkeeper Kylie Hambleton will return in between the posts where she’s started 36-of-40 matches in her career.
“Our veterans understand what I’m looking for and what I want to get done,” said Brown. “That helps move things along very quickly. They understand how we want to play and what we want to do and hopefully they can help share with the younger players and get them acclimated much quicker.”
The Kats will play a tough non-conference schedule this season that features a pair of Big 12 opponents. SHSU will travel to Lubbock to play Texas Tech Sept. 5 and then host TCU Sept. 14 at Pritchett Field.
League play opens at home against Abilene Christian on Sept. 19.