With a roster full of new faces and new head coach, the St. Louis Community College women’s soccer team hopes to keep its consecutive runs to the National Junior College Athletic Association Championship Tournament intact.
St. Louis native Erin Hesselbach, who succeeds Juergen Huettner as the Archers’ head coach, believes her team will compete for a three-peat.
“I think so far we’ve done a really nice job of meshing and bonding together,” she said. “I have a really good group of girls and they like to have a lot of fun.”
Hesselbach sees potential in her team to be competitive, but her main focus is to get her players to take more shots and play sound team defense.
“I would love for us to become a little more selfish on the ball,” she said. “That’s been our focus the last couple of practices.”
Co-captain Sammie Weaver brings a leadership role to the squad, having served as captain of the volleyball team last season. She is not shy about taking on the same role for the women’s soccer team this season.
“We definitely know we have our work cut out for us, but we’re going to do our best,” Weaver said.
Last season, Weaver dealt with challenges the volleyball team encountered, but says she wants to bring a positive attitude to the soccer team, be a leader, and help the team improve as much as she can.
“I think we really need to work on being positive about what can come out of this season,” Weaver said.
Freshman Emily Fox says the team has bonded off the field, but believes the Archers can improve their on-field communication.
“We’re a very quiet team,” she said. “We definitely need to talk (on the field).”
With a complete revamped roster, Hannah Wisnewski is the only returning player from last season, and adds a veteran presence to the team. Wisnewski says the biggest change for her entering this season is getting to know every player and how everyone plays on the field.
“We have such new and awesome talent this year. We’ve only been together two months and I think we’re coming together nicely,” she said. “Coach Erin has done an amazing job, having to build a team in a short amount of time.”
First-year assistant coach Dre Barklage doesn’t believe there’s pressure for the team to repeat its success from the past two seasons. Barklage sees it more of a challenge as the season progress.
“They have work ethic, and that’s something we can work with,” she said. “We’re just going to take it one game at a time.”
The Archers open their season tomorrow (Sept. 4) on the road at Metropolitan Community College-Maple Woods, then finish the brief road trip on Friday (Sept. 5) at Butler Community College.
The Archers play their home opener Sept. 9 against former coach Huettner and Southwestern Illinois College. The match kicks off at 4 p.m. at Meramec.
(Story written by Charon White)