By Brian Lester
Expectations are high for the University of Findlay’s men’s and women’s soccer teams and it is certainly worth your time to keep an eye on both squads.
The women are coming off of a season in which they reached the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament. They lost 3-1 to Northern Michigan in the quarterfinal round.
But the Oilers have almost everyone back from a team that won 10 games in 2007, including five of their final eight during the regular season.
They will be a young but experienced team and confidence will be flowing through their veins as they charge into the 2008 campaign, starting with Sunday’s home opener against Bellarmine (Ky.).
Veteran head coach Andy Smyth will have that team ready to play. I am sure of that.
Senior forward Ali Cariglio will set the tone for the Oilers‘ offensive attack. The group of promising newcomers will push the returnees for playing time and the competition among the players will make the team better off in the long run.
What it adds up to is the possibility of UF playing in the NCAA Division II tournament for the first time in school history. The GLIAC tournament champ and runner-up both receiver a berth in the national tournament.
On the men’s side, the Oilers are gunning for a return to respectability. They were in the NCAA Division II Final Four in 2003, the highlight of a magical season, but have struggled to establish themselves as a consistent winner in recent years. Smyth believes this team has a chance to win 10 games and contend for a conference championship.
It will be interesting to see how it plays out for UF’s men’s team, but I have a feeling the Oilers will end the year with a winning record and be in the hunt for a league title. After all, UF has GLIAC Offensive Player of the Year B.J. Goodwin, who scored 9 goals as a sophomore.
The key to their success is playing consistent soccer. A year ago, UF dropped six of its last seven games. My guess is they will be motivated by the disappointing finish and come out motivated. Like the women, UF opens its season Sunday afternoon against Bellarmine.
Enjoy the season and feel free to share your thoughts on the UF soccer programs.