After an impressive 2016 season that included a second place finish and a NCAA Division II Championship Tournament run, the Sonoma State University women’s soccer team are projected to bow only to the reigning CCAA champions, the UC San Diego Tritons.
A 2017 preseason poll of the league’s coaches predicted an identical outcome to last year, with UC San Diego stealing the No.1 spot and Sonoma State trailing close behind.
After going nearly undefeated with a conference record of 10-1-1, the team’s postseason was cut short when the No. 6 seed Azusa Pacific ousted the No. 3 seed Seawolves in the First Round of the NCAA Division II Championship Tournament.
“Our goal as a team is to get the National Championship,” said team captain Sara Van Wagoner. “It’s early on in the season, but I do believe we have what it takes to be national champions.”
All-CCAA selections Miriam Bloom, Sara Van Wagoner, Cecilia Sifuentes, and Katie Mohr, are just four of the six returning starters hoping to impact the game this year with deadly firepower and impenetrable defense.
“Finishing is a big improvement from last year, we are definitely finding the net earlier in the game which is awesome,” said Van Wagoner. “I feel like our mindset is very focused and driven, from the freshman to the super seniors.”
Adding 16 freshman to the unit leaves room for growth, a focal point for the Seawolves. Under the leadership of the more experienced team captains and Head Coach Emiria Salzmann Dunn, the Seawolves have already set the pace for a strong season.
“Team comradery is one thing we always come with,” goalkeeper Kristen Spear said. “We are adjusting our style of play based on the talents we have on the team to best move us forward.”
“As a captain this year, I feel my most important role is keeping that focused mindset strong throughout the season, seeing each game as a stepping stone to the national championship,” Van Wagoner said.
With the possibility of a championship title just over the horizon, the unit aims for constant growth.
“Our focus now is striving to become better than we were yesterday,” Van Wagoner said.
The team has six preseason matchups before their first conference game against Cal State Monterey Bay in Seaside on Friday, Sept. 15 at 3 p.m.