Experience drives Vandal soccer in 2015
Coming off a 4-14-2 fall season in 2014, the Vandal soccer team went into the spring looking to improve and further build team chemistry.
Through three games this spring, the Vandals are making steps toward the continued improvement for the upcoming fall season, which has already begun in some ways, Idaho coach Derek Pittman said.
The Vandals will try to continue to improve Tuesday when they travel to Spokane to face Spokane Falls Community College.
As the young Vandal squad continues to grow together, the approach to the spring is different from last semester.
Pittman said he already has a solid core of players in place, primarily comprised of last year’s sophomore class. The players will be juniors for the 2015 fall season.
“I think a big part of the chemistry has to do with your players being bought in, and I truly believe that the returning players we have are all bought in,” Pittman said.
Among the players who have bought in are two of the centerpieces of the aforementioned junior class in midfielder Elexis Schlossarek and forward Kavita Battan.
Schlossarek is currently going through her third spring season after taking a redshirt season in 2012 and she said she noticed the teams gets into more of a routine throughout the spring.
After coming in as freshmen in the fall, players are forced to learn as they go, but throughout the winter and spring they get to know their role on team as well as the different players, she said.
The future junior class, along with the rest of the roster, worked throughout the spring to build a deeper sense of chemistry, which may help them this fall.
“I think we have a very strong core group of players — the 15, 16 individuals we have on the roster right now,” Pittman said. “And I think they have done an excellent job throughout the spring coming together as a group and building chemistry among themselves and really working hard together.”
The junior class has been focal a point of the Vandals since the players came to campus two years ago. Battan said she has seen both her and the newer classes of players grow both on and off the field.
“With my class, that definitely happened,” Battan said. “We all have been together. We have lost some, but the girls that are still together have become really close and we have learned a lot about each other and we think the next two years will do that too.”
During the spring you get a chance to develop deeper relationships with your teammates and coaches, she said. You also get the chance to set goals for the fall and work through the summer and fall to achieve them, which is nice.
Now, with the class transitioning to an upperclassmen role, they plan on using the experience they gained over the last two seasons to continue to build the program.
“We have more upperclassmen this year, so that will definitely help,” Schlossarek said. “Now, this class will help in constructing the team a lot more and embracing what we’ve learned and what our culture is.”
Like any roster, over the last two years there has been a decent amount of turnover, whether it was graduation or transfers.
“In the past when we have had, chemistry issues, it is because it has been too individualistic and I don’t think that is the case anymore,” Pittman said.
The chemistry Pittman preaches isn’t something that can be forced either. It has to happen naturally, which it did through the tumultuous fall season the Vandals endured in 2014.
“We grew closer as the fall went on,” Schlossarek said. “But I think we had a lot of uphill battles, so we were kind of stressed out. But now we’ve kind of figured out who we are more and more, which I think is really good.”
Joshua Gamez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org