The 2006 San Jose State University women’s soccer team will be looking to further the improvement the Spartans have shown under head coach Dave Siracusa over his first two years at the helm of the program. San Jose State has posted overall records of 5-13-1 in 2004 and 6-12-3 in 2005, following a 2-16 2003 season prior to Siracusa’s arrival. The Spartans concluded 2005 with a 6-2-1 run and an appearance in the championship game of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament, falling one game short of advancing to the NCAA Tournament. They finished second in the regular-season WAC standings with a 4-2-1 mark. Heading into Siracusa’s third year, San Jose State now has its sights set on a first winning season since 1999, and an NCAA Tournament berth.
“Our expectations this year are defined by the second part of our season last year,” says Siracusa. “I believe, that in reality, everything should move forward, and we should get better and have better results (than in 2005). We would certainly like to start off with the non-conference schedule and do better than we did last year. We only lose one starter, and with a third good recruiting class in a row, the expectations are higher.
“Our team chemistry is one big strength of this team. If we use that, we should do well. The conference is stronger this year, with a solid top-four of Hawai’i Fresno State, Nevada and us.”
San Jose State increased its number of goals scored from 19 in 2004 to 29 a season ago. The Spartans will look to their sophomore tandem of Jessica Scott and Liz Behlen to lead the charge in 2006. Scott produced five goals in her first collegiate season. Her 55 shots were the most by a Spartan since 1997. Behlen led the team with eight goals, including six in seven WAC games, en route to first-team All-WAC and “Freshman of the Year” recognition.
The Spartans have a number of other options up top. Senior tri-captains Cynthia Pinkney and Nicole Martinez will provide much-needed leadership to a young Spartan squad.
Junior Heidi Romswinckel-Guise, sophomore Kelly Madej and incoming freshmen Katie Bonadies, Roxy Kamal and Mollyrose McBride, will vie for playing time at the forward positions.
The midfield area will see one key position change for the Spartans, with junior Jackie Cruz, who anchored the central defense in starting all 21 games in 2005, moving her high technical ability forward into the midfield.
“The holding midfield position is a competitive spot this year,” notes Siracusa. “With both starters back in Jennifer Guadagnolo and Jackie Zabek, and Cruz there, it is a strong position and a key spot for us. All three are good in the air.”
Nicole Irwin, who received the most votes among midfielders in earning first-team All-WAC selection a year ago, returns as an attacking central midfielder. “She can dominate games,” says Siracusa.
Outside midfield also features returning players Kristin Krale, senior tri-captain Cristin Murphy and Martinez.
Tasha Van Dixhorn and Angela Dohrmann are coming off of injuries. Lauren Moniz is another returnee in the mix.
The group of incoming freshmen includes former Olympic Development Program national-pool player Hallsie Pacheco, Natalie Malone, walk-on Mayra Cruz and Kamal.
Like the midfield, the Spartan defense is expected to have a position change heading into the start of the campaign. Brittny Beshore, who started 15 games as a freshman a year ago, is moving from the right to the left side.
Junior Heather Oranje has the inside track at a center back position, with the departure of Jackie Cruz into the midfield. Romswinckel-Guise may be another option in the center after getting a look there during the spring. A number of players are vying for the starting spot on the right side, including Erica Ng-Pinkerton, Kaila Waitley and Amanda Villa.
Ng-Pinkerton, Oranje, Romswinckel-Guise and Waitley can play in midfield.
Among the newcomers, freshman Brittany Boehm can play all three defensive positions, and in midfield. Uilani Bacoro will compete for time at left back.
Siracusa will keep three goalkeepers on the 2006 roster, who between them, have no Division I game experience heading into the campaign. The departures of seniors Adrienne Herbst and Erin Lavey give a pair of redshirt freshmen, Marissa Dayton and Kelsea Scott, an opportunity to battle for the starting role, alongside Nina Butera, an incoming freshman out of nearby Presentation High School.
“This is an untested spot,” remarks Siracusa. “Marissa and Kelsea gained valuable experience during the spring, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. All three will be competing to start.”
The Spartans, picked to finish third in the WAC, face a tough schedule in 2006, with four opponents each from the Big West and West Coast conferences ahead of league play.