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New UHV women's soccer athletes fitting in well

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

Cynthia Rodriguez, a freshman from Grand Prairie on the University of Houston Victoria soccer team, cheers for her teammate during an exhibition game against Challenge Soccer Club of the Elite Clubs National League on the UHV Soccer Field.

2014 JAGUARS

• 2013 RECORD: 6-8

• RETURNING PLAYERS: 13

• TOP RETURNING GOAL SCORER: Sheilat Akapo (13 goals in 2013)

•  TOP RETURNING GOAL SAVER: Samantha Wooster (51 saves)

The UHV women's soccer team has a lot of new faces.

With just 13 returning players on a roster of 25, the team chemistry that has been built in just two weeks has surprised a few people.

"We clicked the first week we were here," said Darby Price, a junior defenseman and captain. "We all became friends super fast. We were at dinner one day, and I was just like, 'this is awesome.'"

The chemistry shows on the field, and head coach Adrian Rigby has taken notice.

"They look like they've been playing together for a while," the fifth-year coach said. "It's good because they're only going to get stronger throughout the season."

"We're all on the same page," said Jennifer Sanchez, a senior goalkeeper and captain. "We're all crazy and weird, in a good way."

The season begins Friday for the Jaguars when they travel William Carey. The next day they'll face University of Mobile, which is only the start of one of the toughest schedules in UHV's history.

The first four games of the season won't be easy. William Carey finished the 2013 season ranked eighth, Our Lady of the Lake was 18th, and Oklahoma City finished just outside the top 25, receiving 102 votes.

Last season, the Jaguars finished 6-8.

However, the tough schedule doesn't intimidate the Jaguars.

"After training with the team the past two weeks, there's no team or game we won't be able to overcome," Price said.

Price, along with senior Jennifer Sanchez and junior Jacquelyn Olle will be the captains leading UHV into the tough season. Price and Sanchez are returning starters, but Olle is a junior college transfer from Tyler. However, she has no problems being a leader.

"Jacquelyn (Olle) has shown great leadership qualities at junior college before coming here," Rigby said. "And it is transferring to over here now."

While the Jaguars are working to replace some of the vacant starting spots, one position isn't causing too much concern.

Sheilat Akapo returns to UHV for her junior season and will look to once again lead the team in goals scored.

"When she's on her game, she's a handful," Rigby said. "She's a tough player to play against and has a great passion for the game. She has a great attitude, too. We're happy that she's come back and is in really good shape."

Akapo scored 13 goals in 14 games last season, tripling the second-place goal scorer from 2013.

The Jaguars once again have a solid goal keeper already in place with Sanchez returning for her senior season.

In 2013, Sanchez played in seven games and allowed just 14 goals while registering 34 saves. Samantha Wooster also saw plenty of time between the posts for UHV last season, playing in nine games and registering 51 saves.

As a captain, though, Sanchez looks to keep a positive energy on the field, which requires just a little bit of yelling.

"When things go silent, that's when you lose energy and things go bad," the San Antonio native said. "For me it's pushing my teammates. If I see someone down, I pick them back up."

The upcoming season won't be an easy one.

But the Jaguars are confident.

"As a team, we're playing well and are ready for the season," Sanchez said. "We're playing with the same goals, mentality and hopefully we can translate what we've been talking about onto the field."

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