Ladyjacks Open SLC Play
Sept. 29, 2005
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Stephen F. Austin Ladyjack soccer team will open Southland Conference action Friday with a home match against Texas State. The contest pitting last year's SLC regular season champions -- SFA -- against the 2004 tournament champion Bobcats is set to kick off at 7 p.m. at the SFA Intramural Complex.
The Ladyjacks are coming off a nine-day break, thanks to schedule changes caused by Hurricane Rita. SFA has not played since its Sept. 21 home win over Grambling.
"It's a double-edged sword," head coach Jaime Frias said of the time off. "Sure, it gives the kids a bit of a break -- time to recover mentally and physically. But it also takes you two or three days to get back into a rhythm, especially when they've got their minds on other things."
Frias added that it is usually easier to get focused for big matches, like his team's conference opener against Texas State. The Ladyjacks were picked to repeat as champions in a preseason poll of SLC head coaches, and Texas State was chosen as the top preseason team among conference sports information directors. SFA brings a 6-3 record to the contest against the Bobcats. Texas State is 3-7 and coming off a 3-0 loss at Oklahoma last Friday.
The loss to Oklahoma broke the Bobcats' three-game win streak, a streak that began with their championship performance in the Ladyjack Soccer Classic, earlier this month. Texas State won both its matches to tie with SFA for the tournament title. Frias said he made use of the opportunity to do some advance scouting in person, but that he wasn't sure how much of a help it would be.
"It helps me to understand some of their tendencies, but teams can change easily from week to week," the coach said. "They also had a chance to scout us out, as well."
What the Bobcats saw was an SFA team hitting on all cylinders. The Ladyjacks posted shutouts in both matches that weekend and outscored their opponents, 6-0. Last week's 5-0 win over Grambling made it three straight shutouts for SFA.
"Our team is like night and day, compared to the beginning of the season," Frias said. "We were successful in having 11 individuals come together as a team, which is especially encouraging when you look at how many freshmen we had coming in."
Two freshmen, in particular, have stood out for the Ladyjacks. Amanda Alders and Amanda Lackey are first and second, respectively, in points scored this season. Alders' five goals and two assists have her in the team lead in both categories. Lackey is close behind with three goals and an assist.
Senior goalkeeper Natascia Michalezki has been solid in net for SFA. The preseason All-SLC selection has logged 718 minutes in net and compiled a 5-3 mark with four shutouts. She has recorded 42 saves and carries a 1.13 goals against average.
Following Friday's match, the Ladyjacks will enjoy another week off before returning to action on Friday, Oct. 7, with a road match at Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond, La.
-- SFA --