Attack-minded women’s soccer team opens season with seven home games

Sept. 7, 2015

Jonathan Toman
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Nicole Ridenour prefers to stay at home whenever possible.

The women’s soccer head coach got her wish, as her Mountain Lion women’s soccer team will begin the season with seven straight home games, looking to bounce back from a 2014 season that saw UCCS finish 6-11 overall, missing the RMAC Tournament.

“It’s a very concerted effort,” Ridenour said. “I’ll take wins at home any day over traveling.”

2014 was a season where the defense struggled, allowing 35 goals, including 17 in a stretch of five straight losses to finish the season.

“We were in a situation where we weren’t ready to fill in gaps,” said Ridenour, who explained the defense was thrown into battle without a chance to digest the defensive system she likes to use.

That stands in sharp contrast to the attacking-minded team the Mountain Lions will field in 2015, a style Ridenour described as “in your face.”

“We defend when we have to but want to bring it to the other team,” said senior midfielder Brooke Tominello.

Ridenour was able to tweak the formation to a more offensive-minded strategy due to the solidifying of the defense.

That seven game home stretch to start can set the tone for the season.

Junior forward Michaela Mansfield, named to the All-RMAC preseason team, sees the home stretch as an advantage with both the home crowd, and the ability to figure out any remaining kinks in friendly confines.

“It’s never fun to play on a field you’re not used to,” she said.

“It’s exciting, it makes us want to play even harder,” said Tominello.

Along with the new team layout is an improved team dynamic, according to Tominello.

“We do everything together,” she said. “That creates trust on and off the field. We have each other’s back.”

“We have more confidence,” Mansfield added. “We can now build our confidence from the (defense).”

Mansfield explained that the team is comfortable pushing each other to succeed, without the motivation coming from the coaches.

“There’s only so much a coach can do and tell you.”

Besides Tominello and Mansfield, Ridenour expects the two central defenders, Savannah Schill and Bethany Leliefeld, to dominate the center of the field and control the more aggressive, retooled defense.

“It’s really easy to get behind (and cheer for) girls in key positions,” Ridenour said.

These changes will be put to the test in the physical and competitive RMAC, where Ridenour highlighted depth on the bench as a key to success.

“The worst team can be the best team,” she said. “We have to be opportunistic and take advantage of our opportunities when they come.”

The Mountain Lions defeated Texas A&M International 3-1 on Sept. 3 to start the season. After taking on Texas A&M-Commerce on Sept. 5, they will face Midwestern State on Sept. 11 at 5 p.m. and Colorado Christian on Sept. 13 at 11 a.m. Both games are at Mountain Lion Stadium.