Aggie Soccer opens training camp Wednesday
Las Cruces, NM — The New Mexico State soccer team begins practice for the 2013 season, Wednesday, Aug. 7. The Aggies start training camp with two sessions at 7-9 a.m. and 6-8 p.m.
NM State has 16 players returning from the 2012 squad including six starters. The Aggies have nine newcomers on the roster this season.
Head coach Blair Quinn said he is ready to kickoff practice for 2013, which is his third season in Las Cruces.
“We’re excited,” he said. “It’s about time. It seems like forever since we last played. With the new staff, Freddy and Ashley, it’s like a whole new team in a way. Even though we have a large number of kids returning, we have a lot of new kids, and I think all that will bode well for the direction we go this year.”
Defense was a strong point for the Aggies in 2012, as they posted four shutouts and only allowed one goal in six games. NM State has two goalkeepers returning in 2013 with seniors Mikaela Bitner and Jessica Schutter providing the experience, while two newcomers join the squad with junior Taylor Rice and freshman Tayler Hammack.
“Finally, we have more than two goalkeepers,” Quinn, a former goalkeeper, said. “We have four, which will be great for the depth of the position as well as the quality of the position. It’s important that they are pushing each other every day.”
The Aggie backline will have new personnel following the graduation of the 2012 class. Junior Alexys Brownell and sophomore Mikaela Haley are back after starting a year ago as well as senior Mickey Giles, who was plagued with an injury as a junior. The Aggies welcome four new defenders with the arrival of freshmen Victoria Archuleta, Melissa Canizalez, Stephanie Petre and Maggie Sabik.
“That’s probably our biggest question mark with the backline,” Quinn said. “We lost a ton of experience in Courtney Irwin as well as Megan Hendler. They were both everyday starters. We have some options; it’s just going to be new faces.”
The Aggies return a wealth of experience to the middle of the pitch. The senior trio of Daisy Hernandez, Mary Kate Koziol and Olivia Sierra lead the midfielders, while juniors Bree Luhrsen and Katie Smith, and sophomore Miranda Valdez are also back. Freshman Gabby Campbell is the newest addition to the group.
“That should be the strength of our team,” Quinn said. “I think it was the strength of our team last year, and quite frankly, I think it has only gotten better. Daisy and MK are team leaders. They are very good. They understand the way we play in the midfield. They are good on the ball. They can go both ways.”
The forward position is the lone group without a senior in 2013. Juniors Jennae Cambra, Katelyn Smith and Layla Todd are in charge of directing the attacking crew, while sophomore Samantha Sandoval and freshmen Devin Hart and Salina Lucero also add firepower.
“The forward line is pretty much the same in terms of returning players but not even close in what it was in terms of development,” Quinn said. “I think the kids, during the spring and summer, have improved tremendously. I think the group that is returning is going to be the key there, in their overall development, and how they improve from last fall to this fall.”
The Aggies also have a new look on the sideline with assistant coach Freddy Delgado and graduate assistant Ashley Botts in their first season with the Crimson and White. Quinn said he was excited about the experience the duo brings to the bench.
“They are both very attacking-minded people, which is going to help me tremendously,” he said. “I tend to start off my teams as defending first, and sometimes I get mired in that, and I think having their attacking eyes will help a ton.”
Aggie fans can get their first look at the 2013 squad at the team’s Crimson and White scrimmage, Aug. 17 at 6 p.m. at the soccer complex. The event is free. The Aggies are also hosting a free clinic to children in first through eighth grade at 5 p.m. prior to the scrimmage.
The clinic, which includes interaction with the entire Aggie team and coaching staff, is scheduled for 45 minutes, before NM State takes the field at 6 p.m. To participate in the clinic, please register children online at NMStateSports.com under the women’s soccer page and the tab of the free clinic. For more information, contact D.J. Downs at email@example.com. Participants are encouraged to bring a soccer ball and water bottle.
The Aggies open the 2013 regular season at home for only the second time in school history, when they host Nebraska-Omaha, Aug. 23 at 4 p.m. and in-state rival New Mexico, Aug. 25 at 1 p.m.