SHERIDAN — Sheridan College men and women’s soccer starts the season off with a home match against Region 18 opponent Utah State University Eastern Aug. 24.
Head coach of the Generals and Lady Generals Mallery Hammer has faced this team the past five seasons, usually in an early match for SC.
“They are a very physical team,” Hammer said about USU Eastern women’s team. “They are a very deep team; they usually have 26 girls. That has always been a battle for us, keeping up with them in terms of them constantly churning in new players.”
Hammer knows it will be a good test for the Lady Generals, especially with USU Eastern having players that can finish. The Lady Generals enter the game in relatively good health and with a deep team Hammer is excited about.
Last year’s contest ended with a 2-1 USU Eastern victory in Price, Utah.
The Generals also lost in the game in Utah, falling to USU Eastern 2-0. Both teams from USU Eastern are under the same coach, and Hammer expects a physical and deep team in the Generals match.
So far this year Hammer, the Generals matched athleticism and skill level with three four-year schools the teams have faced in scrimmages. Playing aggressively against bigger schools is a good sign for the Generals; their only downfall heading into the USU Eastern match is the team’s depth.
It is not a matter of skill but of health for the Generals.
Hammer said injuries have sidelined a few key players, forcing freshmen to step up early and leaving a short bench for the generals.
Returning defender Carlos Diaz is still healing along with a few other players. Hammer said the next week is full of doctor appointments and those will help determine how long players will be out.
The Generals will for sure be without sophomore Marques Scott because of a red card from last season for this first game but will be available for the rest of the season.
While the first game can be nerve-racking, sophomore center back Kieli Stults is excited to open the season on Maier Field.
The Generals and Lady Generals look to start the season off with a win and defend the home pitch.
“We do not get that many home games and we want to establish that home-field dominance right off the bat,” Hammer said. “There is also something special about playing on a field that you train on.”
Diaz sees the importance of winning at home and building a reputation.
“Home games are the most important to win I think,” Diaz said. “When they come to our pitch, the other team knows it is not going to be an easy battle. It’s a reputation, more or less, that when they are on our field we have to give them hell.”
To help defend the home pitch, SC has two freshmen goalkeepers with confidence and leadership required of the position. Kaden Carson and Karla Gaytan will be the last line of defense for the Generals and Lady Generals this season.
Hammer expects the keepers to set up players defensively and be a strong voice on the field even though they are not captains and are possibly instructing older members of the team.
Through three scrimmages, Hammer saw Carson and Gaytan both step into the position, taking on the responsibilities required of them.
Being positioned at one end of the field allows the goalkeepers to see the entire pitch. Carson and Gaytan will communicate with the rest of the team, making sure the team is lined up and opposing players are accounted for. Gaytan described it as being the coach on the field and takes the responsibility to heart.
“Carla definitely has confidence, which is good,” Stults said. “Sometimes you have to reassure her; she takes everything really personally, like the goals and stuff.”
Gaytan knows she takes her job with extreme importance.
“I think I take a little more responsibility than most people,” Gaytan said about preventing goals. “Sometimes my teammates have to give me a couple of slaps to let me know that it is just not my fault or just my responsibility. I take it very personally, getting scored on. I think it’s my only job really, to not let the ball go into the net. It’s like you are either the villain or the hero of the story.”
When a keeper is the hero, it can help the team in other ways besides preventing a change in the score.
Diaz said Carson has helped turn momentum for the Generals thanks to big saves when they needed it. On Monday, Carson was faced with a one-on-one situation. He made the save, keeping the score tied and boosting the Generals’ energy Diaz said.
Carson said he enjoys being able to manage the score and having the pressure on him. In one on one situations, he lets his instincts take over to make the play.
The Lady Generals are eager for their first win, shooting for a victory 9 a.m. Saturday and the Generals will try to defend the pitch at 11:30 a.m.