The Fresno State women’s soccer team finished with a 4-16 overall record, 3-8 in Mountain West play, not a finish any team with playoff aspirations hoped for.
There were uplifting highs and resounding lows with the 2014 soccer season, but head coach Brian Zwaschka found silver linings while acknowledging the overall disappointing year the ‘Dogs had.
“It was definitely a tough year in terms of results, and we learned a lot about the overall level of play in Division I,” said Zwashcka. “We realized that no matter how we were playing or how talented we are, our sport could be very cruel sometimes. It will come down to key moments in games, and it was in those moments when we were discovered, and our inexperience shown through. The reality is that we’re a lot closer to a playoff-caliber level than our record suggests, and we’re the ones responsible in trying to turn it around.”
Some of the ending season statistics show some of the team’s weaknesses. The ‘Dogs had only 9.6 shots taken per game, while their opponents had 14.1 shots taken from opponents during the season. And only 12 assists in 20 games really shone some light on the path this season took. A lot of those shot attempts were taken in the second period of games, allowing opponents to get back into the game even when the ‘Dogs held the lead, evidenced by the 61 Fresno State saves in the second half of games opposed to just 37 saves in the first half.
“We were playing in these games and we weren’t in them, but we created good chances in every game we played,” Zwaschka said. “The hard part is getting the ball into the area where we get scoring chances, and we did that a lot better. If we hadn’t been doing that, I would be really concerned, but it’s going to take a lot more concentration to finish those moments than always creating these moments from scratch.”
Looking to finish with a better record this year, everything will be evaluated by Zwaschka and his coaching staff. Some of the questions Zwaschka is hoping to answer are if the team has the right players, are they being trained properly and if the chemistry is working out. He is hoping that some of those answers will come in the form of next year’s recruiting class, adding the depth to an already young ‘Dogs team which will “create more internal competition,” leading it to a more competitive squad on the field next season.
One of the main holes that need to be filled before next season is the production of Jaycee Bigham, who was recently named to first team All-Mountain West and the ‘Dogs’ leading scorer this season. She is graduating this year, taking with her leadership and experience at the forward position. One of the more intriguing aspects to this season has been the amount of goals scored by freshmen who got the chance to play this season, and Zwaschka is hoping once these freshmen continue to improve after experiencing their first goals of the season.
Zwaschka described the feeling of his team as “optimistic.” With the ability to re-create their identity by adding pieces to their foundation through the recruitment class, or continuing the development of this young team, there is a lot to be optimistic about as this soccer seasons comes to a close.
“We’re a group that has the energy and thick enough skin to really get back on track to where the program knows it can be,” Zwaschka said.