Freedom New Mexico: Clarence Plank Eastern New Mexico University senior Kandace Padilla controls the ball during practice last week at the ENMU practice field. The Zias open their season on Sunday against St. Edward’s at Austin, Texas.
By Clarence Plank
PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University women’s soccer coach Ray Nause said it will take a collective effort to replace all-time leading goal scorer Samantha Lawrence.
Lawrence scored 37 goals in her four seasons at the school.
“Obviously we have to replace the goals that she scored,” said Nause, in his third season at ENMU. “I think we have the players to do that, but they haven’t had the opportunity yet in a real game environment.”
The Zias return seven starters from a team that finished 9-10 last season, including 4-6 in the Lone Star Conference.
Nause said junior midfielder Dani Thurman and sophomore forward Brittany Bustos, both from Albuquerque, could be keys in the scoring department.
“Dani is definitely someone we will be calling on to pick up some of that scoring slack,” Nause said. “Brittany will have to give us some minutes at forward. The players we have been looking at right now have been performing very well, such as sophomore Brooks Serrano, who has really grown in her game.”
Nause said she saw action last season before appendicitis in early September caused her to miss much of the season. Freshman forwards Sydney Tucker of Redmond, Ore., and Maurisa Jones of Goodyear, Ariz., could also figure in the mix up front.
“Tucker has had a good preseason, and she is someone who is going to help us to fill that scoring hole a little bit,” Nause said. “Jones is also someone we think has potential. The three of them will play up top as forwards who we will be looking to to fill in at that role and I think that will make us more multi-dimensional than what we were before.”
Senior midfielder Calie Rush of Clovis said the team has been working very hard to come together. Rush said the one of the challenges facing the team is their size.
“So far we’ve been the smallest team compared to other teams and now we have a few more girls who have some height so we’re a little bit bigger now,” she said. “We’re very aggressive though and work to go after the ball. I believe that is going to help us a lot this year. We’ve changed our approach to how we do things due to the players because of the talent we have.”
The Zias open their season with an 11 a.m. (MDT) match Sunday at 16th-ranked St. Edward’s in Austin, Texas.
Coach: Ray Nause (3rd season)
2009 record: 9-10 (4-6 Lone Star Conference)
September: 5 — at St. Edwards, 11 a.m.; 7 — at University of the Southwest, 5 p.m.; 10 — at New Mexico Highlands, 5 p.m.; 12 — Fort Lewis, noon; 16 — Wayland Baptist, 4 p.m.; 18 — at Lubbock Christian, noon; 23 — Texas-Permian Basin, 4 p.m.; 28 — at West Texas A&M, 6 p.m.-x.
October: 1 — Texas Woman’s, 2 p.m.-x; 3 — Texas A&M-Commerce, noon-x; 8 — at Midwestern State, 3 p.m.-x; 10 — at Abilene Christian, 11 a.m.-x; 15 — at Incarnate Word, 11 a.m.-x; 17 — Angelo State, 1:30 p.m.-x; 22 — East Central, 3 p.m.-x; 24 —Northeastern State, noon-x; 29 — at Southwestern Okalhoma, 2 p.m.-x; 31 — at Central Oklahoma, 11 a.m.-x.
All times Mountain. x-Denotes Lone Star Conference matches.