Aug. 9, 2006
(San Francisco) - USF women's soccer opened practice Wednesday on a gorgeous day at Negoesco Stadium. The Dons welcome eight starters and 20 letter-winners from last season and look to make continued strides in one of the nation's elite soccer conferences. Last season the West Coast Conference rated second nationally in RPI and Portland captured its second NCAA Division I Championship in three seasons, the third won by a league member in the last five years. Five WCC teams qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season.
USF head coach Pamela Kalinoski enters her fifth season at the helm for the Dons and believes her young and talented squad will be ready for the challenges ahead of them.
"This is a great group of girls, Kalinoski said. "The new players are going to add a whole new dimension to our team. We're definitely going to have better depth with the newcomers combined with the returners. There are some new players who are going to challenge immediately for playing time."
Senior forward Chelsea Hunt headlines the list of returning starters and cemented her reputation as one of the elite offensive playmakers in the WCC last season with a career-high 10 goals and added a pair of assists. Hunt enters the season with 23 career scoring strikes, good for a share of third place on the Dons career goals list with Shellie Silva (1991-94).
"Chelsea Hunt is in the best shape of her career, both mentally and physically," Kalinoski said. I look for her to take charge and be a field leader, both by example and by taking charge. We're going to have some quality players around her to take some of the pressure off of her."
Hunt earned All-WCC Second Team honors last season for the second straight season and is an honors candidate once again this season. A pair of sophomores - defender Jessica Duty and goalkeeper Katie Hodgson - earned WCC Freshman Team selection last year and look to shine in their second year in the Green and Gold.
USF scrimmaged on its first day and Kalinoski was impressed with the efforts of a couple newcomers - freshman midfielder Jenny Jarvie (San Diego), freshman forward Samantha Brand (Denair, CA) and freshman defender Sasha Verruno (Malibu, CA).
San Francisco opens the 2006 season on the road Friday, August 25 at Fresno State in a 7:00 PM contest before hosting UC Davis Sunday, August 27 in the home opener at Neogoesco Stadium. Kickoff against the Aggies is set for 1:00 PM.