WSU soccer tapping into "fountain of youth"

Out of the 28 team members on the Weber State University women’s soccer team, more than half (16) are freshmen, since WSU graduated 13 seniors last season.

“Any time you graduate a large group of players, that’s always a challenge,” said Head Coach Tim Crompton. “However, the players that we have returning, a lot of those players played a lot anyway, and the incoming players are very capable and talented players.”

Among those returning this season are junior forward Felicia Sortor, an All-Big Sky Honorable Mention, who was the team’s leading scorer last year with three goals; sophomore defender Mackenzie Day, who earned the Big Sky’s Newcomer of the Year honors from last season, as well as Big Sky Honorable Mention; junior central defender Bailey Eames, an All-Big Sky second-team selection, who played every minute of action last season and was the only player on the team to not be substituted off, and Kendra Bailey, a sophomore midfielder who earned Big Sky second-team honors last season.

“It doesn’t really matter to us what grade or age anyone is,” Bailey said. “We’re all here to play for Weber State, so everyone’s goal is the same. We want to play together and do what we need to do for the team to do well.”

Of the 16 freshmen joining the squad, 13 played for the same Utah-based club team, La Roca FC, for the past five seasons. The team was the 2012 Far West Regional Champion and advanced to the United States Youth Soccer Association national tournament.

“Everyone on the team has a lot of experience,” Bailey said. “We have a lot of new players that might not have college experience, but they have played a lot of big games at regionals, tournaments and nationals.”

After taking the field against two highly touted teams from the University of Tulsa and Oklahoma State University, the Wildcats came home 0-2. Only an unlucky redirection of a 20-yard free kick proved to be the difference between the WSU women’s soccer team and one of the top-ranked teams in the nation, No. 5 OSU, with the Cowgirls claiming the 1-0 result at Cowgirl Stadium.

“We will take the extra rest this week and get some players healthy and back on the field,” Crompton said. “That will be an important part of our preparation for this weekend’s game against Wyoming.”

WSU will make its home debut Aug. 26 against the University of Wyoming. Kickoff is at noon at Wildcat Soccer Field, and admission is free. The Wildcats will open Big Sky Conference play Sept. 21 with an away game at Eastern Washington University.