Bobcats prepare for back-to- back conference matchups

Sports Reporter

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The Texas State soccer team will put its 3-0 Sun Belt Conference record on the line this weekend against South Alabama and Troy.

South Alabama is ranked first in the nation in goals. The Jaguars are averaging 3.85 goals per game.

The Jaguars, scoring 11 goals in their last two games, remain unbeaten in conference play, with wins over Troy and Louisiana-Monroe and a draw against Louisiana-Lafayette. 

South Alabama is a high-pace team, much like Texas State’s opponent from last week, Appalachian State.

The Jaguars, led by forward Charde Hannah, produce a lot of pressure for their opponents. Hannah is fourth in the country with 13 total goals this season.

“We are going to have to move off the ball quicker,” Coach Kat Conner said.  “We are going to have to be able to keep the game faster than what we do, so we will be working on that all week.”

The Troy Trojans are on a two-game winning streak after losing to South Alabama in their first conference match. Troy outscored Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana-Lafayette by a combined four goals.

Troy runs a 4-4-2 formation, similar to the Bobcats. The team’s possession-oriented strategy is designed to quickly move the ball forward and get behind defenders.

Offensively, the Bobcats want to break down the Trojans’ back line. South Alabama took advantage of a miscue by the Troy defenders and scored on a bad kick intended for Trojan goalkeeper Mikki Lewis.

Conner’s main concern is matching up against South Alabama, then turning around to play another highly skilled team in the same weekend.

“That’s a tough travel partner right there,” Conner said. “I’m more worried about us being able to rebound off of Friday night—win, lose or draw—just because it’s going to be so high-intense and a high, emotionally, good game.”

The Bobcats’ 8-3-1 overall record is the best in program history since 2000. In order to keep their winning streak alive, the Bobcats will have to play with eagerness on both sides of the field.

“(We will) play our style and do a little bit of gamesmanship and understand that sometimes it’s okay to put the ball out in a certain area instead of trying to make something out of nothing,” Conner said. “We are trying make sure we limit our mistakes and make sure that we understand the balance of our attack instead of just trying to force something and get ourselves into a quick counter-attack, which both teams could hurt us on.”

Texas State must remain focused for 90 minutes and force South Alabama and Troy to play the Bobcats’ style of soccer.

Caitlynn Rinehart, junior goalkeeper, has allowed three goals in conference play this season.

“The ball kind of came in diagonally, and I should have stepped out, but I didn’t,” Rinehart said. I’m trying to work on that, I guess—better judgment on when I should and shouldn’t step off my line.”

The Bobcats will practice with “numbers down,” a defensive drill designed to prepare for pace and pressure. Rinehart is focusing on maintaining her winning mindset and trying to get off her line quicker to intercept any shots.

“We are working a lot defensively,” Rinehart said. “I’m just ready to win. I love winning. I’m trying to get some shutouts. That’s what I really want. I don’t want any goals in the back of the net, so I think that’s my mentality, is ‘no goals in the back of the net.’”