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Lamar Soccer holds first fall practice of 2017

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BEAUMONT, Texas – If the first day of training camp is any indication, the Lamar University women’s soccer team is far ahead of where it was last season at this time.

“I think they came in in much better shape than they did last season,” second-year coach Steve Holeman said. “We did much better on the fitness tests than last season. Even our newcomers did much better than last year’s newcomers.”

Holeman noted that much of last season’s training camp was geared toward getting the players in shape. This year, Holeman is elated that he can focus more on skill development and tactical training.

“We only have a little more than two weeks before our first game,” Holeman said. “The more time we can work on improving and learning rather than getting in shape, the better.”

The Cardinals open their season at 7 p.m. Aug. 18 against Southern University at the LU Soccer Complex. The Cardinals went 2-14-3 overall last season, including a 1-7-3 record in the Southland Conference. LU closed out the season with a 1-0 victory over McNeese, a team that qualified for last season’s SLC Tournament. LU followed that up by going 11-2-2 over the spring.

“Winning that last game after a rough season says something about the attitude this team has,” said Holeman, who is 220-178-45 over 22 seasons as a head coach, including stops at Auburn, Ole Miss and Georgia. “That was something special. They carried that attitude over into the spring. We have a really great dynamic.”

One thing that has Holeman encouraged about the 2017 season is the Cardinals’ depth. After a season that saw the undermanned Cardinals forced to play goalkeepers in the field due to injuries, Holeman added 11 newcomers to the 2017 roster.

“We added quality, not just quantity,” Holeman said. “I think you will see immediate contributions from many of them.”

Holeman also expects his returning players, led by captains M.J. Eckart, Laura Parra and Carly Morgan, to be leaders on and off the field.

“We talk about our core values and our standings equaling or culture,” Holeman said. “Our players have done a great job in establishing those.”

Parra, one of six seniors on this year’s squad, knows she is being called on to be a leader.

“I want to set a great example for the younger players,” Parra said. “I am going to work as hard as anybody. That’s how we’re going to get better.”

Fans will get their first chance to see the Cardinals in action at 1 p.m. Aug. 12, when LU hosts Louisiana-Monroe in an exhibition contest at the LU Soccer Complex. Admission to the Aug. 12 exhibition is free. Season tickets and individual-game tickets will be available soon. For more information, call 409-880-1715.

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