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Soccer: Ragin' Cajuns Women's Soccer Opens Up Their Pre-Season
LAFAYETTE – Starting on the road can be tough. Taking a show on the road for three straight games to start a season can be even tougher. But in the case of the 2017 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns women's soccer team and 13th year head coach Scot Wieland it's nothing but a short bus ride and a chance to see what they've got going forward this season.
"I don't really look at it as an away game," said coach Wieland. "They're not really going to be long trips, longest trip being to Baylor. For the team getting on the bus and building comradery early on along while getting to know each other off the field is great."
Louisiana opens its season by bringing back the popular Alumni Exhibition game (Aug. 11), which hasn't been played since the 2012 season, and Louisiana will welcome back some great Cajuns from their past for yet another day of fun times reminiscing days gone by.
Following the Alumni game, on Aug. 13, the Cajuns will welcome Mississippi Valley State to the Ragin' Cajuns Soccer/Track Facility for an exhibition game and a chance to get some of the rust off before the season really gets going.
MVSU will be the only warm up the Cajuns get before heading west to Baylor (Aug. 18) to kick off their season starting three-match road trip.
That trip also includes a stop at Lamar (Aug. 20) and a stop at McNeese State on Aug. 25 to wrap up the trip, and they'll return to Lafayette to open at home against Ole Miss on Aug. 27.
Conference play starts on the road as well, but the road-tested Cajuns should be ready to handle their trips to Arkansas State (Sep. 15) and Little Rock (Sep. 17). And the Cajuns will look to return to Lafayette on Sep. 24 to open home conference play against Georgia Southern with a few notches in their conference belt.
"What we'll learn early on is our depth on the road," said coach Wieland. "And for our staff figuring out who's going to be number one and number two at each position."
Louisiana will field a young, but experienced 11 since injuries during the previous season forced younger players to step up and play in positions that they might not have been ready for, but now should have no issues jumping feet first into the fire.
"I think that depth hurt us a little bit last year because of the injuries we suffered," said coach Wieland. "I think that mentally our maturity hurt us last season as well, and a lot of girls had to grow up quick and step up fast. That lack of depth, I think, hurt us towards the end of last season."
This season the Cajuns return previously injured seniors Kimberly Grasso and Taylor Kennedy to the fold, along with experienced seniors Whitney Taggart, Denice Emokpae and Ashleigh Cade.
That core of leadership will look to lead the experienced sophomore and junior class along with a highly-touted freshman class that includes two stars, freshmen Grace Champagne and Julianna DeBlieux, who helped lead Vandebilt Catholic High School to great success on Louisiana's high school pitches.
"We had a couple games last year in the middle of conference play that we slipped up on and didn't show up to," said coach Wieland. "But I think that we're good enough this season to be number one in the conference."
That path to finishing with a conference title starts on a bus and a trip into Texas. But with the experience developed from last season and the additions of top-notch talent this year's Ragin' Cajuns could be driving that bus right to the top of the Sun Belt Conference.
In the interest of public safety and following the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) Best Practices Guide, the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Athletics Department is implementing a clear bag policy at all venues that host ticketed events effective with the 2017-18 competition season. Information about this new policy can be found by visiting www.RaginCajuns.com/clearbag.
For more information on Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns women's soccer, as well as all of Ragin' Cajuns Athletics, visit RaginCajuns.com. Fans can also follow along with the team on Facebook (search UL Ragin' Cajuns Soccer), Twitter (@RaginCajunsSOC) and Instagram (@RaginCajunsSOC).
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