April 22, 2004
WACO, Texas-If the spring practice season is any indication, fans of the Baylor women's soccer team are in store for a special year from the Lady Bears during the 2004 season. Spring practice ends tonight for the women's soccer team with a trip to Austin, Texas, to face the Longhorns, and no matter the outcome, head women's soccer coach George Van Linder could not be happier with what he has seen since the start of practice on Valentine's Day.
"I have been really pleased with what I have seen from our team this spring," Van Linder said. "Overall, we are making strides in the right direction and I think the players are becoming more comfortable with the system we are putting in place."
One indication the women's soccer team is ready for success next year is how the team has responded to adversity in its spring exhibition matches. Last season, five of Baylor's nine losses were by only one goal, something Van Linder attributed to the Lady Bears' inability to respond to an early deficit.
Unlike last year, however, this spring the team has come-from-behind in several contests, including a victory over Big 10 power Minnesota. Van Linder also liked what he saw from his team in a 1-0 loss over national power Wake Forest.
"I've been really happy with the way our team has responded in games we have trailed," Can Linder said. "Last season, we were unable to handle that kind of adversity. But, we have been able to show fight in every game this spring and that is a great sign."
Although Baylor was without Ginny Rosario-Tull, the team's leading scorer last season, this spring due to an injury, several Baylor players have shown vast improvement and look ready to make a contribution during the 2004 season.
One of those players is Tiffany Boshers, a junior-to-be midfielder who was second last year on the team with 10 points on three goals and four assists.
"Tiffany (Boshers) has been playing extremely well this spring," Van Linder said. "She has really raised her level of play and has been creating a lot of chances for herself. I think we can expect big things from her next season."
Van Linder indicated other players have played better than expected as the team will move on to take part in strength and conditioning programs and play in exhibition leagues during the summer months.
As the team prepared for the season ahead this spring perhaps the highlight of the spring session was the team's alumni game with former Baylor players. Former players from as far away as Connecticut flew in to participate in alumni events.
The alumni weekend consisted of several events, including a brunch where past players had a chance to share stories with members of the current team. Following the brunch, the alumni played the current squad in an exhibition match, a game which the current team won 3-1.
"It was a great weekend," Van Linder said. "The turnout was outstanding and it was amazing to see how many former players truly cared about the direction of the program. It was a special weekend and is something we will definitely continue in the future."
As the spring season draws to a close, Van Linder can see the progress the program is making.
"Everything has been going in the right direction," Van Linder said. "I think the spring practices showed us that we will be ready once the 2004 season comes around."