UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. – The Saginaw Valley State University women's soccer team is preparing to open the 2021 spring season in less than two weeks, as the Cardinals will play nine Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference matches.
The Cardinals were picked by the GLIAC coaches to finish fourth in the conference race, garnering 62 points in the annual voting. Grand Valley State University was picked first with 81 points and all but one first-place vote.
In 2019, the last season for the Cardinals, the team finished with a 12-7 overall record and was 7-2 in the GLIAC. For this season, Head Coach Michael O'Neill will need to rely on a young group to come together quickly during the shortened season if the team hopes to stay near the top of the conference.
"Like always we want to be competitive in everything we do," O'Neill said. "This is a young team, and we are still forming our identity. Although it won't differ too much from years past, we have a new squad that must take ownership of those values we want to see on a daily basis. If we have a clear identity at the end of this season, then we will have had a successful spring."
Key returners for the Cardinals include Zo Schultz, Amy Babon, Autumn Kloha, Sarah Fredrick, and Sara Samolinski. The team captain for SVSU will be Schultz, while Babon and Carlee Davis will serve as vice-captains. Alyssa Watts will be leaned on in the net for the Cardinals in her final season.
"All played valuable minutes last campaign and will look to build from that experience this time around," O'Neill said. "We also have a plethora of players who we expect to step up and make big contributions this season."
The Cardinals open the season with a road contest at Ferris State University on March 26. The home portion of the campaign will take place over the course of 11 days, starting with Northern Michigan University on April 1. After home dates with Michigan Tech and the University of Wisconsin Parkside, SVSU will host Purdue Northwest for the final regular-season home game on April 11.
The regular season concludes at GVSU on April 18 followed by the GLIAC Tournament from April 25 through May 2.
SVSU will make up a game at Ashland University at a time and date to be announced.
"Not only do teams change from year to year but this season is our first competition in 17 months so there are so many unknowns," O'Neill said. "All I know is that we will compete like every year knowing that each game will be a battle and a chance for us to grow."