BIRMINGHAM -- - After a 2017 to forget, the Southern Lady Jaguars are looking to rebound heading into 2018.
A lack of offensive punch coupled with self-inflicted wounds – Southern was yellow-carded a league-high 32 times in 2017 – may have been the biggest culprit for coach Jeremy Fontenot’s unit last season, as the Lady Jaguars ranked at the bottom of key offensive categories such as goals, shots on goal and assists.
To that end, the onus is for playmakers to emerge for Southern. Likely candidates for the role are Abby Farias and Sophia Zavala.
Zavala and Farias put home two goals each during 2017 – as a whole, Southern managed just 10 goals on the season – and will need to cash-in on more scoring chances if the Lady Jaguars are to get going offensively and ultimately improve their standing in the league.
However, Fontenot and the SU staff have taken measures to ensure that the duo won’t be alone in that regard thanks to the incoming crop of players on the Bluff. To address the team’s shortcomings last season, Southern inked 15 new signees – the largest class in program history – and it is highlighted with players who flashed as dominant offensive players. Names to watch include Miamour Mesa – who scored a combined 52 goals in her final two seasons of prep play – and junior transfer Joseline Sorto-Aleman.
Assuming the new blood pays immediate dividends, Southern should be much more formidable on the pitch in 2018.
Senior Desirae George-McCool returns to provide leadership on the pitch as well as an experienced commodity in the Lady Jaguar defense as well.
Another area of importance to watch for is the emergence of a reliable goalkeeper. The Lady Jaguars allowed more goals per game than any other team in the conference, and with incoming freshmen set to vie for time in the net, the eventual starter at that position will be tasked with serving as a difference maker between the pipes.
The out-of-conference slate is highlighted with matches versus Northwestern State, Nicholls State, and 2017 Southland Conference champion Lamar. Southern opens the season versus North Dakota on Aug. 19, with first touch set for 6 p.m.
2017 Record and Finish: 0-13-2 (0-8-2 SWAC)
Key Returners: M Abby Farias, F Sophia Zavala, D Desirae George-McCool
Key Losses: F Akousa Allen, M Jessica Persico
(Release Provided by the Southwestern Athletics Conference)