Lady Chants look to turn up the defensive heat in 2012

The Coastal Carolina women’s soccer team has entered its final week of preparation for the 2012 season, which begins Friday with a road match at Kentucky.

Second-year head coach Paul Hogan is pleased with the progress the Chanticleers have made in preseason camp so far, especially in terms of their conditioning, a key factor in successfully applying the type of defensive pressure Hogan wants to use.

“It’s a process,” Hogan said. “We’re trying to set high standards and we’re not backing off of those standards. I think our fitness has been way better than last year’s. The kids are working hard and competing, we’ve just got to execute better. Last year was all about work rate and I think we’ve got the work rate piece and now we’ve got to execute while maintaining that work rate.”

According to Hogan, the Chants executed well defensively at times during an exhibition match last Friday at East Carolina, a three-period match the Pirates won 3-1. The next step is to maintain that for longer stretches throughout a game.

“We thought our pressure at times was pretty good,” Hogan said. “We’ve just got to be more consistent with all 11 players. Kids off the bench have to be right in line with everybody else and be ready to make a difference right away. We saw couple-minute bursts, but collectively the longer we can go, the better we’ll be.”

Despite returning eight starters, this year’s squad is still young overall, and Hogan expects significant contributions from a promising group of 14 newcomers, which includes 12 freshman and two transfers.

“Collectively, this freshman class is more prepared than we’ve had before and they’re more fit from top to bottom,” Hogan said. “I think we’ve got a couple of transfers who are going to be good. Overall, the freshman group has been prepared, they’ve been working hard. It’s hard for freshman to keep maintaining that work rate for a period of time that they’ve not had to in their lives so they’ll have some ups and downs. They’ve just got to keep on fighting through it.”

The Chants play their home opener Sunday at 7 p.m. against Francis Marion.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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