After last season’s disappointing end, the Portland State women’s soccer team is hoping for a fresh start.
New head coach Tara Balanski has been working hard around the clock since her arrival last spring. Balanski feels the practices have been very productive throughout the season. Gaining some additional time on the field, the team participated in a spring soccer league. Consisting of just last season’s players, the team was able to get some victories during the off-season.
“The team adapted well to my style and system of play,” Balanski said.
Balanski, a former assistant coach for the University of Washington, looked to her alma mater for her new assistant coach Tami Bennett. Balanski is excited to have Bennett as her assistant and hopes that she will help the team learn how to score more goals, which is something that Balanski wants to concentrate on more this year.
“We have to be able to score more goals this year, you cannot win without scoring,” Balanski said. Lack of scoring was an unavoidable factor in last season’s poor record. Balanski hopes that Bennett can work with the forwards and mid-fielders teaching them skills that led Bennett to break scoring records while at Washington.
Two returning seniors that will play a key role in leading the team are Lori Mansoor and captain Stacey Storey.
“Both of these girls will contribute greatly on the field, Lori is definitely an offensive weapon,” Balanski said.
Eight new recruits, comprised of freshmen and transfers, look to make an impact on the squad as well. Balanski feels these additions will help the team in all aspects, but especially scoring.
Offensively, she expects Julie Forrest to be an attacking mid-fielder who will put more pressure on opposing defenses. While Jamie Giger, the MVP of her high school conference, will continue scoring goals at the forward position.
With the exception of Montana, the Big Sky conference competition is wide open this year. The Grizzlies are consistently voted the front-runner in the conference by the coaches’ polls, while the rest of the league will fight for the remaining open spots for post-season play.
The new season has not started off much better than last year’s winless record. With a 0-3-1 record so far, the team hopes the regular season will be more productive.
In their first match, an exhibition, the Vikings tied a talented Gonzaga squad. Since then, the team has played three tough games, two away from their home field. Despite dropping all three, the Vikings have shown great effort. The squad went against a solid Boise State team on the road losing narrowly, 2-1. They then played Western Oregon University, which was the only disappointing loss thus far, 1-0. The next loss came from Perdue, 3-1 at home. Coming from the talented Big Ten Conference, Perdue was a tough match for the Vikings.
This week, the team will head to Colorado to play Colorado College and the Air force. The next home match is on Sept. 28 at the Tigard High School Soccer Complex against Washington State at 7 p.m.