After making the Southland Conference Tournament for only the second time in a decade, co-head coaches Jess and Anna Jobe look to build on that success, as the Northwestern State soccer team had its report day Monday.
In the first season under the Jobes, NSU finished with 10 wins, which were the second most since 2010.
The Jobes will have to blend in 14 new faces into a young, but experienced group of returnees. Of the 14 newcomers, 13 are freshmen and goalkeeper Acelya Aydogmus transferred in from Troy.
“We have a lot of work to do in a short period of time. This preseason will be really important for us to as a team that we come together and start to learn more about one another, like strengths and weaknesses, both on and off the field.
“We have many young players, many of whom got good experience last year,” Jess Jobe said. “It’s going to be fun to see these players compete and we’re looking forward to it.”
The team only has five junior and seniors, led by seniors Jayden Wheeler and Kayla Bomben, as well as junior Ashley Medawattage.
“This is bittersweet as a senior because growing up, you never think your playing career is going to end,” Wheeler said. “But I can vouch for all my teammates that we’re ready. We’re so excited.”
Nicole Henry, who was the team’s top player in minutes last year, leads a Lady Demons defense that registered five shutouts a season ago and returns nearly everyone.
The Lady Demons have an exhibition game in Natchitoches Aug. 17, against Little Rock. Jobe knows the challenges having a young team with not much practice time before a game can provide. But he also knows it is a good barometer for where the team is at.
“The exhibition match is going to come quickly, but that’s what we want,” Jess Jobe said. “We’re going to play a quality opponent and we want to see where we are.”
NSU begins a challenging non-conference schedule on the road against North Texas Aug. 22, The Mean Green finished 15-3-3 in 2018, winning both Conference USA’s regular season and conference tournament titles.
“Playing difficult games in nonconference gets us more prepared for conference play because the Southland isn’t easy,” Wheeler said. “Playing teams like North Texas and Baylor is definitely a good test for us to see where we’re at and see what we need to work on before we get into conference action.”
The Lady Demons start the season with three consecutive road contests, and five of the first six are away from the Lady Demon Soccer Complex.
After the exhibition and the three road games to start the regular season, NSU plays its first home game Sept. 1 against in-state rival Louisiana Tech.