Preview: Sac State women’s soccer prepares for first game of season

Sac State women’s soccer hosts St. Mary’s in their first matchup of the season

James Fife

Giana Seltzer

The Sacramento State women’s soccer team is back on the field and ready to host their first game of the spring season Thursday against St. Mary’s. 

The Hornets’ 2019-20 season ended with an 11-2-6 overall record, including seven All-Big Sky selections and a 17-match unbeaten streak that broke the Big Sky Conference record. The team was expected to return for the 2020-21 season last fall, but the season was postponed until spring 2021 due to COVID-19.

Head coach Randy Dedini said the long hiatus from competing has motivated the team to come back this season with a strong and positive mindset. 

“Everybody’s just really excited to get back into contact and playing real soccer,” Dedini said. “For all of our fall semester, we were essentially playing non-contact, you know, and doing a lot of fitness and skills.”

Dedini said the team has been practicing with high energy and that they feel ready to pick up where they left off in 2020. 

Although the team is cleared to play with contact, Dedini said that games are going to look different for spectators due to COVID-19 protocols. He said no fans are allowed, but games will be livestreamed for friends and family.

In order to comply with safety measures, the team is tested for COVID-19 once a week, and everyone receives a daily temperature check before entering practice.

Senior forward and captain Julia Herrera said the team has set a goal of winning the conference. She said she has goals set for herself as well.

“As for a personal goal, I want to be an all around good teammate, a good captain,” Herrera said. “Especially as this is my first year of being a captain, so I want to motivate the younger teammates and keep up the good energy with the older players.” 

Senior forward and defensive midfielder, Alyssa Baena, said that this season is incredibly important, not only for herself but for her fellow teammates who are going into their last season.  

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“I think especially being a senior and almost having our last season taken away from almost 19 of us who are all seniors definitely brings our demand to a higher intensity because we finally realize that we almost didn’t have our last chance,” Baena said. 

Eight new players were recruited last year and were added to the 2020-21 roster. 

Dedini said both the staff and players are excited to welcome the new recruits and believes they will become dominant additions to the team in the coming seasons.

“We’re excited about the talent level, and we think that they set the foundation for the next four years of our program,” Dedini said. “We have speed coming in but we also have some strong midfielders who are going to compete for time right away.”

Academically, women’s soccer has earned honors off the field as well. Ten players received Big Sky All-Academic titles in the fall 2019 season alone; two of them, Baena and Herrera, are three-time Big Sky All-Academic honores.

Herrera reflected on the lessons she’s learned over her time playing soccer at Sac State and also gave advice to her teammates coming into the season.

“The lesson that I’ve learned playing here is to control the controllables because not everything is going to go your way,” Herrera said. “Games aren’t going to go your way, you might not get enough playing time, but you can always control your attitude and how hard you work.” 

The first game of the season will be livestreamed on Pluto TV at 3 p.m. Thursday.