CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi women's soccer team will open its 2014 season on Friday, Aug. 22, when it takes on Houston on Carl Lewis Field at 7 p.m.
It marks the second straight season that the Islanders and Cougars will open the regular season doing battle on the pitch. In A&M-Corpus Christi's first game in program history last year, Houston rallied past the Islanders with a 2-1 victory at the Dugan Family Soccer & Track Stadium.
The Islanders will look to improve on a debut campaign that saw them go 2-16, with eight one-goal losses on their docket. A&M-Corpus Christi returns all 10 of its starters in the field and every key reserve.
Included in that group is Preseason All-Southland Conference selection Yvette Franco, who was named to the second team after scoring eight goals and 19 points a year ago. Senior Alyssa Miller also returns up front for the Islanders after scoring three goals, including the game winner against McNeese State.
In the midfield, senior Aulona Velaj leads the way after making 11 starts and playing in 17 out of 18 games. Junior Kallyn Redona will anchor the midfield defense, while freshman Zoe Cole is expected to make an impact on the wing along with sophomore Audrey Kuhl.
On the back line, the Islanders will look to junior Jessica Berdan to anchor the center after she played nearly every minute on the back line a season ago. She is expected to be joined by freshman Jacey Love, who has been the standout player of the preseason for the team. On the outside, senior Sara Chandlee and sophomore Emma Biba bring a wealth of experience after starting all 18 games a year ago.
In the net, the departure of Audrey Baldwin leaves a significant hole for the Islanders, as she played all but 49 minutes last year and finished seventh in the nation with 128 saves. Redshirt freshman Megan Delaney is expected to start the season at keeper. The Las Vegas native was one of the top club keepers in the nation during her career with Slammers FC.
The Islanders will look to shake off the injury bug that has plagued them during the preseason, as A&M-Corpus Christi was limited to just two substitutes in the team's game against St. Mary's on Sunday.
Houston went 0-1-1 during its preseason, falling to TCU on the road and earning a 2-2 draw with Sam Houston State on Carl Lewis Field. The Cougars saw nine letterwinners depart from last year's team.
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