The Commerce Journal
Texas A&M University-Commerce soccer opened its summer preseason workouts Monday morning as the Lions welcomed a nice mixture of both returning veterans and talented newcomers to the newly resodded field at Lion Soccer Field.
Head coach Neil Piper’s squad ran through the first of 21 practice sessions over the next two weeks as the Lions battled the early morning Commerce heat, repeating the effort again later this evening. Following the first week of workouts, A&M-Commerce will get their first look at where they stand, hosting FC Dallas 95 in a scrimmage match Aug. 19 at 7 p.m.
The Lions will return to the practice field for one more week in the preseason, culminating with scrimamges at East Texas Baptist on August 25 and Austin College on Aug. 26. Following those preseason tilts, it will be time for A&M-Commerce to hit the ground running as classes start Monday, August 27 with the Lions’ season-opener against Ouachita Baptist scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 30th. That match against the Tigers will be the first Gold Out game of the season, with free gold t-shirts being handed out to fans as they enter the gates.
A&M-Commerce finished 2011 fourth in the regular season standings and advanced to the Lone Star Conference semifinals, falling to eventual champion Abilene Christian. The Lions were picked to finish third in the 2012 preseason poll, garnering one first place vote in the process, and look to have the personnel developing to make a run at an LSC title.
The Lions will field no seniors in 2012, turning the leadership role to the talented junior class, which includes first team All-LSC forward Brionna Minde, midfielders Eva Brutto and Brittni Ong and defender Tareyn Blanton. A&M-Commerce’s sophomore class also played a huge role in 2011’s success as LSC Freshman of the Year Jade Bell, along with twin sisters Cadie and Callie Annett look to take that next step in their Lion careers.
A&M-Commerce’s biggest question mark heading into the season is at goalkeeper as the Lions will have to replace three-year starter Randi Hafele. But Piper has brought in a pair that will compete for the job, as well as a handful of talented freshmen and transfers that should compete for playing time from the get-go.
Piper’s squad has another challenging home schedule ahead of them as following the season-opener against Ouachita Baptist, the Lions will welcome the remaining seven Lone Star Conference schools to Commerce.
Following an extended road trip, A&M-Commerce will play host to a critical five-match homestand running from Sept. 21 to Oct. 3. The Lions close out the home portion of their season with matches against Eastern New Mexico and West Texas A&M in mid-October before turning their sights toward the stretch run of the 2012 season.