First time in Florida
With their stunner shades on, the Idaho Vandals soccer team will travel to Florida this weekend for matches against the Miami Hurricanes and Florida International Panthers.
The road trip will mark the first time in program history that Idaho will travel to or face a team from the Sunshine State, and only the second time that the Vandals will play a match east of the Mississippi River.
Coming off a winless weekend at the Boise Invitational, Idaho (2-4) will look to get back to their winning ways, starting at 7 p.m. Friday against No. 30 Miami (5-2-1).
Idaho coach Pete Showler said he hopes to see the team rebound after disappointing results last weekend.
“Well, it’s a short week for us. The girls have put some hard work in today,” Showler said. “It’s tough because of the double overtime game and the extra work that was put in there. We’ve just been working hard preparing for Miami as best as we can. They’re a team of that quality that’s used to playing at that high of a level. It’s always a challenge, but our girls are ready.”
Showler described Miami as a quick and skillful side, different than a lot of the physical and strong teams the Vandals have already faced this season.
Senior midfielder Megan Lopez said that playing teams like Miami and FIU are not only good to gauge where the team is at on a national level, but it also helps them prepare for the upcoming conference schedule.
“What better way to prepare for conference than playing top-notch schools,” Lopez said. “Like Texas Tech, we’re expecting Miami to be almost flawless and give us a good run for our money. We’re also hoping to challenge them, and grow from it so that everyone is looking up and viewing it as a challenge, so I think it’s promising for us going into the WAC.”
Showler echoed Lopez’s thoughts by saying that games like these are an experience that the players will never forget.
“It’s great for them as players because they’ve worked hard to get here. Whether they are a freshman or a senior, they’ve put a lot into this program,” Showler said. “This is just a reward for all their hard work.”
The second match of the weekend will take place at 6 p.m. Sunday when Idaho faces a Panthers team who will have recently returned from a match in Baton Rouge, La., against LSU.
Freshman Meli Cortez may be the biggest surprise early in the season for Idaho, tallying two goals and one assist from her left forward slot in the Vandal’s six matches.
Cortez, a five-foot-two-inch converted midfielder from Salem, Ore. said that the team’s chemistry is what will help guide them to victories in high-profile matches like the ones this weekend.
“We’ve become really close, so staying together as a team, we can beat them,” Cortez said. “If we go in the game positive, wanting to win, I think we’ll get the results that we want.”
Madison McCord can be reached at email@example.com