The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Women’s soccer preview

Matador head women’s soccer coach Keith West has high hopes for his 2007 squad, despite one of the toughest schedules the team has ever seen. The team will play UCLA and Florida State, two of the NCAA Final Four teams from 2006. The schedule also features matchups with Sweet 16 team Illinois, as well as a game against Long Beach State, currently ranked number one in the Big West Conference Pre-season Coach’s Poll. Cal State Northridge will also play second-ranked Cal Poly and third-ranked UC Santa Barbara at home in consecutive matches in late October and early November. The Matadors will open the regular season by playing their first four games on the road.

West said a tough schedule will only better the team and push the freshman to strive for excellence.

“I set the schedule up to challenge the freshman,” said West, who is in his second year as head coach. “In order to be the best, you got to play the best.”

Cal State Northridge was ranked sixth out of nine teams in the Big West Conference Pre-season Coach’s Poll, but West thinks his team is better than the ranking might indicate.

“We are better than that,” West said. “As long as we stay consistent and attack with passion and desire, we have the ability to beat any team.”

This year’s team has a solid returning cast and West said he is counting on these veterans to lead the younger players and incoming freshman. The importance of these returning players and their experience is priceless, he said, and their ability to lead the younger players will be the key component to the growth of this team. So far, through pre-season practices and workouts, West likes what he sees from the older players in the leadership department.

“One great thing I am enjoying is watching the (upperclassmen) really take hold of this team,” West said.

Last year’s team finished with a 10-9 record, giving Cal State Northridge its third straight double-digit winning season. Although that was a success story in itself, the team seems to have improved in many areas. The athleticism, energy and depth of this team are superior to that of last year’s team, West said.

Kristal Phillips, CSUN’s leading scorer from the 2006 season, is expected by West to have an even better season than she did last year when she compiled six goals and four assists. The junior forward from Burbank, Calif. is among the leaders of a strong Matadors’ offense. Senior midfielder Susie Mischenko, also among the leaders of this team, has a pretty impressive resume herself. Mischenko has held All-Big West honors for two straight seasons, as an honorable mention selection in 2005 and as a first team selection in 2006.

The incoming freshmen look promising and should provide much athleticism and depth to an already solid team, West said. He predicts there are at least four or five freshmen who will not only compete for a spot on the 20-man roster, but will be significant to the team’s success.

From the forwards up front to the last line of defense in the back, West sees the consistency required for a good season.

“Our back line is really solid, our midfield line is strong and our front line is strong as well,” West said. “I can’t say any one is better than the other right now.”

The team played a pre-season game against USC yesterday at Matador Soccer Field. They will open their regular season on Saturday, September 1 at Oregon State and the first home game will be Friday, September 14 against Baylor.

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