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Beating the Texas heat and opponents

By Taylor Mitchell
Aug. 18, 2014 at 6:57 p.m.
Updated Aug. 19, 2014 at 12:01 a.m.

Jonathan Valdez, a University of Houston Victoria's freshman from Los Fresnos, chases down the ball  during an exhibition game against San Jacinto College on the UHV Soccer Field.

When Taylor Gordon went home to Scotland this year, the country was hit with a heat wave.

But it's nothing compared to a typical day in Texas.

"It was about 27 degrees Celsius," Gordon said.

That's about 80 degrees Farenheit.

Needless to say, there's a slight difference and not much one can do to prepare for the Texas heat.

"You don't really know how to take it when you get off the plane," Gordon said. "Two weeks down the line, your body adjusts, but there's nothing you can do to prepare for it, though."

The UHV men's soccer team has been preparing for its upcoming season in the Texas heat. The Jaguars kick off the season Friday at William Carey in Mississippi. The team wrapped up its preseason games Saturday in a match the Jaguars saw get better as it moved along.

"In the second half, we got better," UHV head coach Adrian Rigby said. "We have a better sense of our team. We've gotten better and better over the course of the preseason."

Rigby and the Jaguars hope the improvements help better their 2013 record of 9-5-2.

Much like their women counterparts, the Jaguars face one of the toughest schedules in the program's history.

"We start off with a tough schedule," Rigby said. "Our thing is we want to see where we stand against good competition."

William Carey spent time inside the top 10 of the NAIA rankings last season. After the season opener, the Jaguars face University of Mobile and then stay on the road to face Oklahoma City and Our Lady of the Lake.

The first home game of the season is Sept. 5 against Mid American Christian.

"We're confident in ourselves," senior captain Hector Gonzalez said. "We're anxious to start. We know it's going to be tough, but we're ready."

Gonzalez, a Pasadena native, has played for UHV all four years of his collegiate career. One of the biggest adjustments he's had to make is leading a team that has 14 international players.

"It was hard, but we're a team; we're a family," he said. "It's easy to gain their respect and tell them the easy way to do things."

There isn't anything easy about replacing some of the key talent from last year's squad.

Gone are the team's leading scorer and assists leader from 2013, Daniel Lozano, and the team's goalkeeper, Henrik Hundesruegge.

The Jaguars do return a pair of goal scorers that each scored four last year in Gonzalez and Jhostan Padron, from Refugio.

Gordon, one of three captains for UHV, will lead a defense that he hopes will be better this season.

"We have a few new guys from England and we're looking to be stronger than last year," Gordon said. "I think we can do that."

The team goals however are much more than just being stronger, though.

"Win it all, of course," Gonzalez said. "But we have to work hard to do that."

And hopefully in cooler temperatures.



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