Pioneers optimistic about upcoming season

Marissa Marshall,
Staff Writer

It’s a new season for the California State East Bay women’s soccer team and the team is in the midst of their preseason training with long double days and fitness tests.

Last season the Pioneers finished 4-11-3 overall and 3-9 in conference, which put them 10th in the California Collegiate Athletic Association. Going into the season this year, the Pioneers are ranked 11th out of the 12 teams in the CCAA.

East Bay will go into this season with the loss of eight seniors, including standout midfielder Tia Sidtikun who was an All-CCAA honorable mention, forward Megan Ravenscroft, and midfielder Andrea Hernandez.

Despite the loss of players and the low preseason ranking, the Pioneers are very optimistic about this season.

“We have a lot of incoming freshman and new transfers,” junior defender Savannah Schultz said. “We added a lot of diversity up top who will help us score, but we also added players to help us defend. I’m excited to see what they can do and add to the team.”

East Bay brought in a total of 12 newcomers this season, which can be a good and bad thing.

It’s good to get a new unit and start with a fresh roster, but it’s also hard to get every player on board quickly and adjust to the system. Soccer is about chemistry and how well players mesh with each other on and off the field.

Shultz is a key returner for the Pioneers with her strength on defense along with senior defender Janelle Herrera. The team has some key midfielders returning as well; junior midfielder Aulani Fernandez and sophomore Jamie McPherson add a veteran boost to the squad.

“Training has been great so far,” Schultz said. “We have been staying fit through agility ladders, sprints, weight lifting on our own, and double day practices. The team chemistry is building each day and our first scrimmage will show us what we can improve on.”

On Tuesday night they played their first exhibition game against the University of Mary on the Hayward campus and they won 2-0.

East Bay showed confidence in the game, worked well together on the defensive end and were able to capitalize on opportunities, which is a good sign for their team chemistry going forward.

The biggest challenge for the Pioneers this year will be to finish and make goals close to the net. They struggled last year getting the ball past the goalkeeper, scoring just 1 goal or less in 15 games of their games. Despite the efficient defense, you have to score goals to win in soccer.

Last year in all 20 games, the Pioneers held opposing teams to 2 goals or less in each of those contests. If they can continue to play strong defense and finish around the net, they could surprise the conference.

On Saturday, East Bay will play the Academy of Art in their final exhibition game at Pioneer Stadium on the Hayward campus at 1 p.m.