Lone Star Conference preseason polling has men’s soccer at the University of the Incarnate Word nearly on top but football, volleyball, women’s soccer and cross country/track teams near the bottom.
The league’s head coaches, sports information directors and various media representatives cast votes in the poll announced July 31 at Lone Star’s annual Media Day held this year at the Holiday Inn Airport in San Antonio.
The men’s soccer team is expected to finish second this fall to Midwestern State in preseason polling among four teams. Other polls predict UIW’s soccer women placing seventh among eight teams, men’s cross country placing ninth among nine teams, women’s cross country seventh among nine teams, football seventh among nine teams, and volleyball 10th among 11 teams.
“I have no idea where we’ll finish,” Larry Kennen, new head football coach at UIW, said at the Media Day luncheon.
“I am not surprised we were selected to finish where they have us,” said Dr. Derek Riedel, who coaches the men’s and women’s cross country and track-and-field teams. “I think most coaches don’t put any thought into it and just place each team where they finished last year at the conference championships. I don’t vote like that because I think it’s shortsighted to do so but the preseason polls are what they are – a prediction.
“Hopefully, we can blow past those predictions and finish higher than we have our first two years in the league. This is a very strong league so any finishes in the top half can be considered a successful finish.”
Volleyball Coach Jennifer Montoya begs to differ with the poll as far as her team is concerned.
“When you look at our roster and see that we have lost six seniors to graduation, who were all major contributors for the past two years, it is easy to see why the majority of voters feel we are No. 10,” said Montoya of her team, which opens its season with four matches at a tournament in Golden, Colo., at the School of Mines against Dallas Baptist, Colorado Mesa, Arkansas Fort Smith and the host team.
“Of course, I have a completely different opinion of our team this year,” Montoya said. “Yes, we lost about half of our team. However, we have several players this year that will fill the gaps. Transfer Chetina Chavis (a senior from Houston) will be a big presence at the net both offensively and defensively. Returners Beth Soukup (a junior from Helotes, Texas) and Stephanie Bonura (a senior from Houston) are expected to contribute offensively along with redshirt freshman Angelique Vidaurri (San Antonio), who we could not utilize last year. Angelique has had an entire year to train and mature. We have seen her game really improve. By the end of our spring season, she was a dominant force at the net, raising the level of play in our gym. We will look to returning senior, Lydia Werchan (Smithson Valley, Texas) to lead our defensive effort. Senior setter Danielle Suarez (San Antonio) will quarterback our offense.
“Bottom line is it’s going to be a team effort. We will train to have a very aggressive defense both at the net and at the back line, and to produce a balanced attack. This is the tallest team UIW has ever had. We will use our size to our advantage. As long as we can stay healthy, we can compete.”
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