Fresno State senior forward Fanny Johansson battles with a defender during Wednesday afternoon’s practice at the Soccer and Lacrosse Field. (Darlene Wendels/The Collegian)
The Fresno State women’s soccer team returned home after opening the season last weekend in North Carolina with a pair of lopsided losses.
The Bulldogs first suffered a 5-0 loss against the Duke Blue Devils, then a 7-0 loss against North Carolina.
Despite the big losses, Fresno State head coach Brian Zwaschka said he was encouraged by his team’s effort against two of the best teams in the country.
Zwaschka expected a tough challenge when he scheduled the ‘Dogs for the North Carolina Classic, but he also expected to gain valuable lessons.
“We knew that we were going into a tough place to play against two top teams, and the point is to win,” Zwaschka said. “But when you know you’re outmatched, then you have to make sure you take away some lessons.”
In the two games, the ‘Dogs were able to move the ball in the opponents’ half of the field, but they were not able to create enough chances on goal.
“We just have to put more of those actions together, and we have to finalize those actions with more dangerous chances on the goal, but we did a good job of getting into those areas,” Zwaschka said. “If we get into those areas against the top teams, we should be able to get into those areas against any team.”
The ‘Dogs also faced an uphill battle in North Carolina as they tried to adjust to the long flight and the change in time zone.
“Those are the kind of things we wanted to throw out, so that we get used to the travel routine,” Zwaschka said. “Those are the things we have in the bank now and we need to build on.”
A voting panel of the 12 Mountain West women’s soccer head coaches chose Fresno State to finish 10th in the conference, but Zwaschka said this is not the same team that finished 4-16 last season.
“We know that we underachieved last year,” he said. “It’s up to us to take that as motivation and to adjust the necessary things to move up that ranking.”
Senior forward Fanny Johansson said the team will learn from the early season struggles, and it will remain confident the rest of the way.
“We have great leadership with older players coming in, and we have new players coming in with excitement,” Johansson said. “We’re all ready to play whether starting or coming off the bench.”
The ‘Dogs will hit the road again to face the Oregon State Beavers Friday at 2:30 p.m. in Corvallis, Ore. They will then travel to Eugene, Ore., on Sunday to face the Ducks at 1 p.m.
Fresno State’s home opener is on Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Soccer and Lacrosse Field against Cal State Northridge.
The improved Soccer and Lacrosse Field features a permanent scoreboard, sound system, intimate spectator viewing, on-site restrooms, a snack room and lights.
“We’re playing great teams whether it’s North Carolina or Northridge,” Johansson said. “Every game is a learning experience. We hope to improve every game and take something from it.”