Petrucelli's perspective: Part three
With the start of the 2006 season just weeks away, eighth-year women's soccer head coach Chris Petrucelli sat down with TexasSports.com in the days leading up to the season-opening, exhibition match against UT-San Antonio to provide insight on positions, the roster and the schedule.
Fellow sophomore Kasey Moore was also one of the top rookies in 2005. Are you worried about the sophomore slump? What does she bring to the defense? Kasey's extremely powerful. She heads the ball better than any one in the country and strikes a ball better than anyone in the country. Those kinds of things aren't going to leave her. She will be an important player for us. She's going to organize our defense and lead from the back. I don't know that there's a better center back out there.
As a freshman, Dianna Pfenninger saw a lot of playing time in goal last year. She is your top returning keeper, but has she earned the starting spot for her sophomore season? She's our starter. She's our goalkeeper. I feel like Dianna is very good. I've coached some great goalkeepers and Dianna's as good or better than anyone I've had. She's a hard worker, she has a strong presence, she's athletic and she's bright. She plays at an extremely high level. It's really comforting to know that if you make a mistake she's right there. You may be able to beat some of the players on the field but you have to get by her and that's very difficult.
Out of the newcomers, who is expected to challenge for a starting spot? How difficult will it be for the newcomers to adjust to collegiate play? It's going to be hard for the incoming class. Everyone is returning from last year. The level of the players that are returning is very high. The impact of the freshmen will be felt later on down the road. I think it will be hard for them to step in and start. The group that we have starting is really good and these players are upperclassmen. They've been through it. There just aren't a lot of spaces available. A year ago, we started six freshmen in trying to replace a bunch of seniors. Maybe next year the younger guys will have more of an opportunity. Not to say they are not good players but they are walking into a difficult situation.
Switching over to the schedule, your non-conference opponents include 2005 Women's College Cup participant Penn State at home during Labor Day weekend. What should the fans look for with that match-up? Will that be the first true test for the group? We won't have Stephanie for the Penn State game. They will be missing a player or two also. It's a good way to measure ourselves to find out where we are in our season. I don't know how much it's going to tell us because it's early in our season. It's a fun game to play and they've had great success.
In conference, are there a few match-ups that are circled on your calendar? The real test of where we are at will come as we go through the Big 12 schedule. It will be the grind of the conference schedule that will tell us a lot. Everyone's going to come to the A&M game. It's always a game everyone wants to see. Certainly Penn State is a fun game everyone will want to see.