After dropping a heart-wrenching 1-0 decision to Midwestern State on Friday, TWU soccer coach Babak Abouzar decided the Pioneers would benefit more from a Saturday film session than his usual light practice to prepare for the next day’s game.
It turned out to be a successful move.
After studying their mistakes from Friday’s loss, the Pioneers (4-6-2) came out Sunday and battled past Angelo State, one of the two teams currently sitting atop the Lone Star Conference standings. The 2-1 win came as TWU heads into a three-game road swing that begins Thursday at Texas A&M-Commerce.
“We usually have a light practice on Saturday, but we decided to do a light jog and stretch and then watch film,” Abouzar said. “We watched Friday’s game and showed the girls some of the things they did well and some of the things they really need to improve on.
“It was good to see them soak up all the information that we saw on film and implement it on Sunday on a quick turnaround.”
Some points Abouzar wanted to emphasize to his team included the forwards controlling the ball longer to allow the midfielders to get into scoring position, and the midfielders and defenders being more aggressive in attacking and winning the ball.
“We’ve been preaching the small details, doing the simple things right,” Abouzar said. “If we do those things right, we have a better chance of winning the game.”
Scores reflect league parity
Abouzar says the tight scores and tie games around the conference reflect the league’s parity this season.
His TWU squad contributed to two of those close outcomes last weekend when the Pioneers lost 1-0 to Midwestern State on Friday and defeated Angelo State 2-1 on Sunday. In the 12 games the Pioneers have played this season, seven have been decided by one goal or ended in an overtime tie.
“Anybody can beat anybody,” said the first-year head coach. “It just depends on who’s going to stay focused and come out and execute that one play that decides a game. It speaks to the strength of our conference.”
In the six-team LSC, two schools (Angelo State and Midwestern State) sit atop the standings with six points while the remaining four (TWU, West Texas A&M, A&M-Commerce and Eastern New Mexico) have four points apiece.
Pioneers suffer mental beating in five-set match
Some losses hurt more than others, and Friday’s five-set loss to Texas A&M-Kingsville was especially painful for TWU coach Shelly Barberee.
“We didn’t get beat physically, we got beat mentally,” Barberee said. “We got beat physically by the score, [but] the way we got to the fourth and fifth sets is mental.”
Barberee said her team had a difficult time adjusting after a key injury earlier in the week sidelined a starting setter and team co-captain. The backup player wasn’t ready for the role of starter, she said, and the other players on the floor didn’t adjust well to the new setter.
“Not only did we lose a key role player, we also lost a leadership role player,” Barberee said. “We tried some things out, and they worked a lot better in practice. Then we had the pressure of trying to execute the same thing in the game and it didn’t work.
“The only two players that I felt gave me their all were Morgan Wilson and Chloe’ Tate,” she said. “I think most of the other girls regret how they played on Friday.”
The Pioneers will play their next six matches on the road. Prior to Tuesday night against Angelo State, TWU had played just two home matches this year. Also opening the season with 12 of 13 matches on the road, the Pioneers get to play six of their final seven at home beginning Oct. 29.
“Every team has hiccups along the way,” Barberee said. “If we don’t learn from that hiccup [Friday], that’s one thing. But hopefully we learned something from it and we can move forward.”
Alves earns LSC honor
Senior middle blocker Marcela Alves was named Lone Star Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Week last week in the after leading the Pioneers to a pair of road victories.
Alves, a 6-foot-1 native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, led TWU with 15 blocks in victories over Midwestern State and Cameron. She finished with a .364 hitting percentage and 16 kills in the two wins.
Balanced roster awaits Jillson
A balanced roster of experienced players and newcomers awaits TWU coach Beth Jillson when she opens practice Tuesday to prepare for the upcoming season.
TWU, coming off a 7-19 campaign in 2012-13, returns seven letter winners. Unlike last season, when the roster was limited to eight players, this season’s team features four seniors, four juniors, two sophomores and five freshmen.
“We return a lot of experience from last year, and I feel like they’ve really stepped up as leaders,” Jillson said. “With them having played in this conference and knowing what it’s all about, that should make us better this year.”
Among the key returning players are senior guard Rebekah Cluley, who led the team in points and assists a year ago, junior forward Ria Pateraki, the team leader in rebounds and blocks, and junior guard Barbara-Scott Kolb, who had a team-high 40 steals.
TWU opens the season Nov. 11 at home against Ouachita Baptist.
Pioneer Hoops golf tourney scheduled for Friday
The first Pioneer Hoops Golf Tournament will be held Friday at TWU.
All proceeds from the tournament — a four-person scramble with a shotgun start scheduled for 1:15 p.m. — will go to the TWU basketball program. Following the tournament, a dinner for the participants will be held at 5 p.m.
The tournament is open to the public. The entry fee is $75 per person. Visit www.twuathletics.com for entry information.
TWU faces strong schedule
Nine opponents who advanced to last season’s NCAA meet highlight TWU’s 2014 schedule.
TWU debuts Dec. 7 with its Intrasquad Holiday Spectacular at Kitty Magee Arena before opening its regular season Jan. 10 at Auburn. The Pioneers’ first regular-season home meet is scheduled for Jan. 18 against Air Force.
The Pioneers will compete in 11 regular-season meets, including six home meets. Among the opponents are 2013 NCAA meet participants Arizona, Auburn, Bridgeport, BYU, Iowa State, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina State and Oklahoma.