Simonetti looks to take EOU soccer to new heights
The Eastern Oregon University women’s soccer program enters a new era for the 2012 season. Jennifer Simonetti takes over a club that went 4-10-1 a year ago under Keith Scarlett and Tennly Paul-Bowden. Simonetti brings a wealth of soccer experience to EOU, having coached at Div. III Marietta College in Ohio, as well as the high school and club level.
Simonetti was also an accomplished player, starting for four seasons for Dayton University from 2001-04 and earning a number of awards during that time.
She was hired to EOU in January, and after a full spring and summer of workouts, she is ready to lead the Mountaineers into their first official game Saturday at the University of Great Falls at 1 p.m. MT.
“I’m very excited about this season. I think it’s going to be positive from start to finish,” the new coach said at EOU media day Monday. “As we get into shape we’ll look to play a little bit better, but I think we’ll be competitive this year.”
EOU currently has 19 players on the roster, eight of which are new to the team but are not new to the college game.
“We were able to find some very talented players who were missed in the shuffle,” Simonetti said. “All of which will be competitive for our program this year, so we’re really looking forward to that.”
The Mountaineers do return some experience, including All-Cascade Conference honorable mention Mauriana Gonzalez, who scored four goals and had two assists last season. Defenders Carolyn Danek and Jordan Whitehurst are also back, along with midfielder Erika Whitehurst and goal keeper Kailey Moss.
With two weeks of practice under the team’s belt, the players said they are quickly taking to Simonetti’s coaching style.
“She holds us to a higher level,” Danek said. “We’re expected to play at a higher level. We kind of got caught in moments last year where we weren’t doing our best and our hardest.
“She (Simonetti) forces us to do our best and push each other in practice.”
And the coach admitted she was pleasantly surprised with the talent level that is on this team.
“Once we got here we realized these women are extremely talented. There was just something wrong that didn’t get them to click, didn’t get them to play to their potential. So it’s really just tapping into their potential,” Simonetti said.
Eastern Oregon played a non-counting contest Saturday against Columbia Basin College and came away with a 1-1 tie. And while it wasn’t a win, the takeaway from the game was a positive one.
“I’m happy with it,” Gonzalez said. “With a whole new group of girls you never know what’s going to happen in the first game, the first time you step onto the pitch after two weeks of practice. We found some things we need to work on, some mistakes that we can fix easily.”
Danek was especially pleased with the defense against CBC and thinks this season could lead to big things by the Mountaineers’ defenders.
“I think we’re going to mesh really well this year,” she said. “We’ve got some freshmen coming on and some transfers. The goal we gave up was an error on our part — they never earned it — so that’s always a good way to look at it.”
The Mountaineers haven’t had a winning season since 2006, its only winning season in the program’s 11-year history. But Gonzalez thinks that could change this year.
“I really think that everyone’s goal is just playoffs,” the midfielder said. “Last year, the game that we lost weren’t games that we should have lost. And with the level of talent we have on the team this year, I don’t think it’s an unattainable goal at all to make the playoffs.”
The Mounties will play their first nine games of the season on the road before playing in La Grande Oct. 5 against the College of Idaho.