After a disappointing 4-12-1 season, Texas State soccer will take the field in an exhibition against UT-San Antonio on Aug. 12, hoping to rewrite the woes of last season.
The Bobcats were 4-9-1 in the fall and lost all three of their six scheduled matches in the spring. The team's other three games were canceled due to COVID-19 protocols and the effects of February's Winter Storm Uri.
Coming into the new year, one of the biggest priorities for Head Coach Kat Conner is to keep her players safe from COVID-19.
"We're trying to mask up as much as we can," Conner says. "We've still got to be cautious ... You don't even want to catch it because obviously, it can take them under the weather, and these players ... they're like finely tuned sports cars. They need to be at peak performance, and that's what we're trying to do: get them to be at that peak level."
As for the play on the field, Conner says she hopes her team has confidence in their abilities after playing against higher-caliber teams last year, such as the University of Texas, Texas A&M and North Texas.
"Overall, it's just trying to build our confidence for our young players, like Beth [Agee] and like Bailey [Peschel], to see that they can do this," Conner says. "They're capable, and I know that they can do it. Hopefully, that's what they saw from this past season."
Sophomore goalkeeper Agee is coming off a stellar freshman campaign where she started all 17 matches. Her 87 saves were the second-most by a freshman and tied for the sixth-most single-season saves in program history.
Agee says the amount of playing time she got last season and her individual achievements have boosted her confidence coming into this upcoming season.
"It's experience that I can transfer over into this coming season," Agee says. "I can already feel that the confidence is up. I know what I'm doing more; I feel like I control my defense better, can see the field better than I did before."
The Bobcats have a young team this season; 16 of the 27 players on the roster are freshmen and sophomores. Having been embraced by the upperclassmen on the team in her earlier years, junior midfielder Peschel feels it is now her turn to make newcomers feel welcome.
"I know when I was a freshman that seniors and juniors really looked to just bring me in and help me feel part of the team," Peschel says. "Now, as we're getting older, that's what our goal is: To make them feel at home. I think that's something that helps our team chemistry a lot."
Seeing other schools have a strong fan presence at games, Conner encourages more Texas State students to show support at home games this season, especially for the team's first home game versus UTSA.
"We got some home games, and we'd love to have some students out there ... getting into it, getting a rivalry going, especially at UTSA," Conner says. "They always bring a good fan base, so we need to get out there and do it. We're going to try to put together that type of atmosphere for players and for that type of entertainment, coming into our venue. We definitely want to make it something where all students want to come out and be a part because it's gonna be a fun time."
The Bobcats face UTSA in an exhibition at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 12 at Bobcat Soccer Complex. The game will air on ESPN+.