DALLAS, Texas – The ULM soccer program will begin its 11-game non-conference schedule on Friday when it travels to SMU for the season opener at 7:00 p.m. at Westcott Field.
ULM head coach Roberto Mazza enters his second year at the helm and brings in a recruiting class of 21 freshmen. The team returns seven letterwinners from last year’s squad, including five starters.
“We have a lot of new faces, but there isn’t a single player on the roster that isn’t ready to play,” said Mazza. “Everyone on this team is extremely driven and wants to be great. I feel that everyone we have has the potential to be a huge impact player.”
The Warhawks completed a two-week preseason program that saw them strengthen their on-field play, conditioning, agility and team chemistry. They started their regular season training this past week and are using their ninth-place ranking in the Sun Belt Conference Preseason Poll as one form of motivation.
“Being picked ninth leaves room for improvement and gives us the opportunity to prove a lot of people wrong,” said sophomore Kelley O’Dwyer. “The harder we work now, the more we will excel in the long run.”
Sophomore Karlea Fehr returns as ULM’s offensive leader and was named to the SBC All-Conference Preseason team. She led the Warhawks in goals (5), assists (5), points (15), game-winning goals (2), shots (54) and shots on goal (26) last season and earned a spot on the 2012 All-Louisiana First Team.
The Mustangs posted a 9-8-4 record in 2012 and return eight starters from last year’s squad. The match marks the first-ever meeting between the two programs, but the Warhawks have won five of their last six season openers.
“The game is going to be very difficult. SMU is a big team in a big city,” said Mazza. “We are going to be young and do what we can just to stay in the game.”
The game will be a homecoming for seven student-athletes on the ULM roster who are from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Holly Mallinson (North Richland Hills), Cameron Stoker (Frisco), Paige Reid (Frisco), Allie Dickson (Forney), Abigail Canny (Plano), Haley Rodriguez (Rowlett) and Kyla Kalinski (Wylie) are all Dallas-Fort Worth natives. Additionally, O’Dwyer is the eighth Warhawk from Texas, hailing from Sugar Land.
The contest marks the first-ever game the Warhawks play against the American Athletic Conference.
ULM will play its home opener on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. against Grambling State. Admission to the game is free. Follow the ULM soccer team on twitter, @ULM_Soccer, for live in-game updates for both games.