Work hard, play hard: UCCS women’s soccer ready for season

Sept. 9, 2013

Alexander Nedd
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A soccer ball soared through the air, met by two girls dribbling and passing to each other before shooting at the Four Diamonds soccer field’s goal.

At 7 a.m., the UCCS women’s soccer team is hard at work.  A new season is dawning for the ladies on the field, and with that, new goals.

The Mountain Lions had a successful run last season with 13 wins and an RMAC quarterfinal appearance.

Head Coach Nichole Ridenour looks to improve on scoring to help rocket the team to the front. “We need to make sure that we score when we have the opportunity,” Ridenour said.

“Last year was a great year. We didn’t lose two games in a row,” said Assistant Coach Craig Decker. “We have never beaten Regis [University], so that is something we want to change. We’re not the underdogs anymore. We want to win the big games,” he added.

As part of their preseason routine, the girls shared a week together in Winter Park to practice and have fun.  The coaches like to make sure the girls aren’t just teammates but also share a bond that helps them become stronger.

“There is not an option to just go to practice,” Ridenour said. “Everybody knows everyone on a personal level.”

Senior Captain Kia Jeffords is a returning player and looks to take on an added leadership role this season.

“I want to help keep the girls motivated throughout the season,” Jeffords said. “I want to try and be a good leader.”

She also mentioned enjoying the trip to Winter Park. “That is where we get our team bonding,” Jeffords said. “That’s also where we work the hardest, and girls compete for positions.”

Eight freshmen have joined the team’s roster this year. Jess Freeze, a pre-nursing major from Jackson Hole High School in Jackson, Wyo., is one of the new girls to join the team.

“The speed of play is a lot faster,” Freeze said when asked about playing at a college level. “It’s a lot more physical. I’m looking forward to playing at a higher level. I want be a better distributor and have quicker passes.”

The regular season runs through Nov. 3 before the playoffs begin in the RMAC tournament. It’s a long season, but the team also looks forward to seeing something else that can help them through it: a crowd.

“Our attendance broke a lot of records last year,” Decker said, a trend he wants to see continue.

“We’re in the RMAC, which is one of the most competitive Division II conferences in soccer. The games are really tight and fun to watch,” Ridenour said. “We love the crowd; we feed off their energy.”

“Come out and support us,” added Freeze.

The team lost 0-3 their first game, an exhibition against the University of South Dakota on Sept. 1. The first home game of the regular season is Sept. 13 against Fort Hays State at Mountain Lion Stadium.