USU soccer: Aggies ready to get out of comfort zone
Logan • There is a certain buzz in Logan this fall with its football team expected to compete for a league title, the opening of the new Wayne Estes Center that hopefully will attract more top-quality recruits, and a volleyball team believing it is about to be a force to be reckoned with now that it knows its way around the MWC.
Not to be outdone, the Aggies' soccer team is determined to get in on the fun too, even if it means dabbling in unfamiliar waters.
"We need to get out of our comfort zone," said defender Taryn Rose. "We have a lot of high goals, but we've never won a championship before and if we want to, we need to try harder, practice harder, all those things."
Rose's thoughts were echoed by her coach, Heather Cairns, who has been happy with the way her team is practicing so far.
"Last year was a breakthrough year for us," she said. "It took some time to get there, but this year, practices have been really good and we are all excited about the possibilities."
Cairns has pegged reaching the second round of the NCAAs and challenging for the MWC title as goals.
Winning the league is always a challenge, but the addition of Colorado College as an affiliate member in soccer will make it even harder, she said.
"We've done a good job of showing we are competitive," she said. "But we don't have a title yet; we need to get out and get that goal."
The Aggies have a challenge in replacing forwards Jennifer Flynn and Mari Miyashiro, two players who earned MWC honors last year.
However, the Aggies were known for their defense as much as anything else last year, as they gave up just 21 goals in 22 matches.
This year, they could be even better with Rose leading the way. The senior is the College Sports Madness West Soccer Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, while fellow senior Brooke Larsen-Leavitt and sophomore midfielder Jayne Robison also earned MWC honors last season.
Cairns also has a talented group of underclassmen who she expects will help the team right away that is, if the veterans let them. So far they are setting the bar high, and that bodes well for the Aggies in 2014.
"We are putting in the work every day," Rose said.
USU soccer overview
Expectations • The Aggies have seven starters returning from their squad who advanced to the Mountain West Tournament. The Aggies hope they can do even more with the experience they have now.
Coach • Heather Cairns, 11th season (103-78-25)
2013 record • 10-7-5 overall (5-3-2 MWC; semifinals of tournament)
Notable returner • Taryn Rose leads a strong defense that also boasts Lexie Henrie, who was named to the Mountain West all-Tournament last year.
Notable loss • Jennifer Flynn, who led the Aggies with five goals last year, must be replaced along with forward Mari Miyashiro.