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Posted Aug 17, 2012, 4:08 pm
The Pima Community College women's soccer team notched up an impressive record last season: 11-7-1. That record includes eight shutouts and one 6-0 victory. It was enough to get them into the postseason.
Can they repeat that sort of success?
"I think they have a lot of talent and experience in club soccer," said head coach Kendra Veliz. "We have a lot of young girls, freshmen, but they are bringing in talent and experience."
When she talks about this season's squad being "young," she means it. There are only three second-year players.
"We are relying on the sophomores to lead the freshmen," she said. "They need help bringing up their level to the college level. There is definitely a learning curve from the first year to the second year."
Pima's men's team counts on local youth soccer clubs for its recruits. Although Veliz has players from those clubs, she also relies heavily on local high schools.
"We really have a mix, which is part of the challenge," Veliz said. "Bringing these girls together from all different high schools who have been playing against each other for four years, we take the cream of the crop and get them to want to play together."
Pima College women's soccer opens their season at home against Glendale Community College on Aug. 23 at 3:30 p.m.. All home games are at the West Campus.
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One of the second year players that Veliz and the Aztecs will be relying on for leadership and experience is Erika Heredia. The Sabino High School graduate was a second team all-star in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference in the 2011 season.
What position does she play? Well, that's the funny part.
"Before I started playing goalie, which was in middle school, I was a defender," she explains. "The goalie on my team got in trouble one year so we didn't have a goalie. So I stepped up, and throughout my high school career I was a goalie."
She won't be stuck on the end line this year though.
"I've always wanted to play on the field; this year she's giving me a chance," Heredia said.
That's right, she'll be a goalkeeper as well as other positions on the field.
"I'll be either a midfield or forward, whichever. I'll switch off."
It's not the most normal situation, Veliz admits.
"At this level it's unusual," Veliz said. "It's not the first time I've seen it. It won't be the last."
Don't expect Heredia to throw off her gloves and start dribbling the ball up the field. She'll start as a goal keeper or field player and end a game that way. As for which games she's in goal, she'll likely be between the pipes for the more critical matches.
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"The more fun games where we can switch around, I'll probably play on the field," she said.