The Western Nebraska Community College women's soccer team is low in numbers but high in talent as they begin their 14th year on the field after opening pre-season practice Thursday afternoon.
Morgan Smith, one of the six sophomores returning, said things look good for a good season.
"I'm super excited for this season," she said. "We have a great group of girls and I think we can achieve a lot this year."
While the low numbers might be a problem for some, not for this year's team. The team has plenty of talent.
"We don't have many girls but I think our team could be a force to be reckoned with," she said. "We have a lot of strong players coming in this year so as long as we come together as one unit we should have a great season."
WNCC has plenty of time to mesh as a unit. The Cougars will have one more week before their first scrimmage, a Sunday, August 13 showdown with the WNCC alumni. After that, the Cougars will have a couple of preseason scrimmages. First up is the alumni scrimmage on Sunday, August 13 and then they have a pre-season tournament with four teams on Aug. 18-19 at home where they will face Colorado Northwestern and Northwest Kansas Technical College.
Smith said she is looking forward to the alumni scrimmage in 10 days.
"I loved the alumni scrimmage last year. It's awesome to see so many players come back and still have all the skills they had when they played at WNCC," she said. "And that also lets us see how well we play together as a team and see what we need to work on for the next week before our home tournament."
In the meantime, the team has one thing on their minds, to get better as individuals and as a team.
"Right now our main goal is to improve individually and as a team and hopefully get some more wins this year," Smith said.
Smith, who shined for the Scottsbluff soccer team in helping them to a district title, is just one of the six returners. The others include returning goalkeeper Allison Parker of Westminster, Colorado;; Brittany Hunsley of Belle Fouche, South Dakota; Juliana Stratford of Sandy, Utah; Katelyn Pyle of Sterling, Colorado; and Bianca Gomez of Lexington.
Parker isn't the only goalkeeper on the squad this season. Gering's Leah Martin and Jordan Rivera of Ft. Morgan, Colorado, are freshman keepers. A couple of the keepers could be seeing time on the field in other capacities this season as well.
Other freshman on the team include Gering's Sydney Heimbouch, along with Tanya Bertani and Rafa de Souza Silva of Brazil; Courtney Nelson of Wheatridge, Colorado; and Michelle Marino of Schuylar, Nebraska.
Smith said the sophomores goals, along with the other players, is to give 100 percent and try for another berth at the regional tournament.
"The focus for myself is to just better myself. I want to play after WNCC so I'm going to just focus on getting better every day," she said. "The focus for the team is to be better than we were the first day of practice and be able to play as a unit."
The Cougars will open their season on the road Aug. 25 and 26 when they travel to Gillette College and Northwest College. The Cougars will then open the regular home portion of their season Sept. 1 and 2 when they face Snow College and Northeast Community College out of Nebraska.