HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The University of Southern Mississippi soccer team is set to kick off the 2014 season with a pair of home games at the Southern Miss Soccer Complex. The Golden Eagles play host to Nicholls State on Friday, Aug. 22 in the season opener before welcoming Mississippi Valley State on Sunday afternoon. Kickoff against the Colonels is slated for 4:00 p.m., while the game against the Devilettes is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
The Last Meeting
August 23, 2009
The Last Meeting
August 25, 2013
Itta Bena, Miss.
"We feel good about our chances," head coach Mohammed El-Zare said. "The team has been working really hard throughout preseason. We have addressed a lot of different areas. Everyone looks ready to go and in good spirits.
"From day one, we have emphasized `process,' making sure we do everything right, whether it is on the field or in the classroom" El-Zare added. "I want to make sure we are playing collective, team soccer first and foremost. I want to see us have good positional play on the field as we move the ball forward and be aggressive going forward and getting numbers in the attack."
Last year, Southern Miss finished with a 7-9-4 record, the most wins in a season since an 8-11-0 showing in 2007 and the fewest losses in a season since going 4-9-2 in 2005.
All told, the 2013 Golden Eagles either set a record or cracked the top 10 in 18 team categories. Seven wins tied for sixth most victories in a season and the Golden Eagles' four ties set a new school record.
The 2013 squad set new marks in saves (138), save percentage (.807), saves per game (6.9), total shots (323), total minutes played (21,092) and goalie minutes played (1,913).
The Golden Eagles' 43 goals were second most in a season behind only the 1997 squad that scored 44. Thirty assists were fourth most in school history and 116 total points were just three off the record of 116 set by the 1999 team.
Southern Miss enters the weekend after dropping a 1-0 decision to Louisiana-Lafayette in a road exhibition. The Golden Eagles were able to play nearly every member of the team in the only tune up prior to regular season play.
Scouting the Opposition
Nicholls State's Spencer Valdespino was named to the First Team Preseason Southland All-Conference and Jess Coates was named to the Second Team.
Valdespino was named the 2013 Southland Conference Soccer Player of the Year and First Team All-Southland Conference. She also became the first player to be named to the NSCAA All-Central Region team. Coates aided the Colonel defense in shutouts of McNeese State and Houston Baptist, while scoring five goals on the season, including a hat trick against Southern.
Mississippi Valley State:
Last season, Nykosi Simmons was an offensive force for the Mississippi Valley State women's soccer team, scoring four goals while attempting 31 shots. On Tuesday, in an exhibition season-opener for the Devilettes, the junior standout nearly reached that same goal total -- in one game.
Simmons, who was tabbed First Team Preseason All-SWAC, scored all three of Valley's goals in a 3-3 tie at Delta State as the Devilettes played their first game under new head coach Fabio Boateng.
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