This is technically the off-season for the Lady Cats of Western Carolina University women’s soccer. If you asked them, however, the girls would tell you otherwise, as they have played in several exhibition tournaments in preparation for the fall season.
The first exhibition tournament took place on Mar. 29 as the Catamounts traveled to Spartanburg, SC to take on Francis Marion University and USC-Upstate. Each of the games was 45 minutes long.
The first game against Francis Marion ended in a 1-0 victory for the Catamounts off the lone goal by rising sophomore Bri Cunningham. USC-Upstate proved an even opponent in the second game, ending with tied score of 0-0.
Head Coach Tammy DeCesare was happy with the early offseason action.
“I’m pleased with the preparation of our team,” said DeCesare. “We’re using the spring season to try new systems and players, and some of these adjustments are just now starting to come together. Our goal is to improve each game while we prepare for next fall.”
Off- season action resumed in April as WCU soccer participated in the Olympic Developmental Program Showcase in Greensboro, N.C. on the 6th. Other teams participating in this tournament were Lenoir-Rhyne, Wake Forest, and East Carolina University. Each game was only 35 minutes due to inclement weather.
WCU easily took down Lenoir Rhyne in the first game, 3-0. Three sophomores, Rachel Shomper, Katie Kole, and Cunningham handled the scoring in the game with a goal each. WCU was unable to answer Wake Forest, losing by a score of 1-0. The third game pitted the Lady Cats against a familiar foe in ECU. Senior Lauren Atkinson scored the lone goal as WCU won with its second shutout of the day.
The Lady Cats had a break from exhibitions for a week before hosting WCU annual 7v7 tournament in Catamount Athletic Complex. The tournament split four teams into 18 and played on half a field. Each smaller team played four games, with the top two teams from each bracket advancing to single elimination rounds of the tournament.
Western advanced into the single elimination with little trouble. The Cats defeated USC-Upstate 3-0 in the quarterfinal, Carson-Newman 2-0 in the semi, and played Gardner-Webb to a 1-1 tie resulting in a shootout. Cunningham again showed up big, scoring her third goal of the spring season.
The finale of the spring season came on April 20th when the Lady Cats hosted Carson-Newman and Western Kentucky in a round-robin style tournament. Games were played in two 30-minute halves.
The first game of the day was an old ‘Western’ shootout as the Catamounts took on the WKU Hilltoppers. The game ended in a 1-0 loss that showcased a hard-fought, defensive battle.
The Catamounts finished strong with a 3-0 win over Carson-Newman. Nikki Lombardo tallied the first, Shomper the second, and Cunningham got back into the action scoring the third.
The Lady Cats get some much deserved rest as the spring season comes to a close. The girls will no doubt continue to work hard all summer, and will play again when the 2008 fall season gets underway. The team travels to Blacksburg, Va. on Aug. 14 for an exhibition against Virginia Tech. The regular season officially gets going on Aug. 22 against ECU, and the home opener will be against the Butler Bulldogs on Sept. 5.