HARTSVILLE, S.C. – The preseason is underway and fourth-year head coach Dan Muns and the Coker women's soccer team are hungry to get their second season in the South Atlantic Conference started.
"We have very high expectations after last season," said Muns. "We took our share of bumps and bruises last season, but we navigated our first season in the SAC with the poise I expected. Now its time to take our potential and work ethic and show teams we mean business this year."
The Navy and Yellow closed out the 2013 season with a record of 3-2-1 over its last six games, which included a 1-0 victory over regionally ranked Newberry College. The strong finish propelled them to a No. 11 ranking in the SAC preseason poll. Wingate is the heavy favorite to win the conference, with Lenoir-Rhyne following in a close second.
"In my career, I have been part of highly ranked teams, as well as a low ranked team," said Muns. "The position you are picked means nothing because you still have to win games at the end of the day."
The 2014 installment of Cobras will not lack the talent to win games as they return 16 letterwinners from a season ago, and have added 13 fresh faces to the mix.
"We are going to be a very scary team with the group of players we have," said Muns. "Everyone returning has been waiting to get back on campus and build on what we started last season. As for the newbies, they all have been chomping at the bit to compete against the established players."
Leading the way for the Navy and Yellow will be the all-conference duo of Lizz Morris and Jordan Roy. Morris, a senior goalkeeper, comes into 2014 as a preseason first team All-SAC selection after garnering first team All-SAC honors in 2013. Roy, a sophomore defender, was an honorable mention All-SAC performer in 2013, but enters the year as a preseason second team All-SAC selection.
"I know what to expect from Lizz and Jordan in the defensive backfield," said Muns. "However, with the loss of skill and leadership from Jalynn Fortt and Rachel Solomon, I want my returning mids and forwards to expand their games a little and make the plays I know they can."
The quintet of Gabby Steele, Jade Widdows, Nadia Maaouia, Renee Ledesma and Batavia Mata highlight the newcomers. Muns expects each to impact the Cobras immediately and stir up competition amongst the team.
"All of our new players are special, but this particular group stands out," said Muns. "Gabby, Jade Widdows and Nadia are all transfers and have experience at the college level that will help them get accustomed to the SAC quickly. Renne and Batavia are two California kids that have played a high level of competition out west and they should transition to the college level with ease."
Even with all the potential and talent, Muns and the Cobras are not getting ahead of themselves. They know it's a day-to-day approach that will help allow them to get to their goal.
"We want to compete in the 'second season'," said Muns. "The second season is the postseason, and that is where we see ourselves. We know it will not be easy, but we plan to grind it out every game and capitalize on every chance we get. We have one saying around here 'win the fight'."
The Navy and Yellow opens it season Thursday, Sept. 4 on the road at 7:00 p.m. against Clayton State University.