Spring is in the air

The Portland State women’s soccer team will hope to build upon last season’s consistent performances and set the tone for the regular season when they kick off their 2011 spring season next month.

The Portland State women’s soccer team will hope to build upon last season’s consistent performances and set the tone for the regular season when they kick off their 2011 spring season next month. The team finished second in the Big Sky Conference last fall, but didn’t make it past the semi-finals in the playoffs.

In many ways, 2010 was a bittersweet season for the Vikings. The team overcame season-ending injuries and a mid-season slump to record their best-ever regular season performance in the program’s conference history (5-2-0) and finished second behind Northern Arizona (6-0-1).  However, the Vikings lost to eventual tournament champions Sacramento State in the semi-finals.

“In a lot of ways we had a good year,” said fourth-year team head coach Laura Schott. “A lot of players had very good regular seasons. We won five conference games this year and that has never been done before at Portland State. At the same time not advancing to the conference final or the NCAA tournament is very disappointing.”

However, this season Schott seems defiant to overcome the last barrier and has added five new players to the team’s arsenal including two forwards, two goalkeepers and a defender. All five players signed on the first day of the NCAA’s signing period and four of them hail from the Portland metropolitan area.

One of the new recruits, Sherwood’s Daniela Solis was a member of the Mexico’s U17 FIFA World Cup team last September. Solis scored the match-winning goal against South Africa in one of her three appearances in the World Cup. Solis will join her Sherwood schoolmates sophomore captain Amand Dutra and sophomore Michelle Hlasnik on the Viking roster.

The other recruits include twins Kayla and Kelsey Henningsen from Westview High School, who will be joining former-classmate junior goalkeeper Lainey Hulsize on the team. The two new goalkeeping prospects include Angela Haluska and Caitlin Plese.

The Viks began practice for the spring season at the start of the new year and labored through the cold winter to keep working on improving their team. The team has even brought in a sports psychologist to help work on leadership and other aspects of development. Portland State has finished amongst the top two teams in the conference for the last two seasons.

“I think the spring overall has been positive,” Schott said in a statement released by the athletics department. “We’re working a lot on our attacking combinations, sorting out how we’re going to attack next year and off the field, working on leadership skills. We’ve been able to add some things this off-season that have been very helpful to our program.”

The Vikings have already had two skirmishes this season on Feb. 26 against Montana and Boise State in Kennewick, Wash.  

“We were happy with the results against Boise State and Montana—our speed of play was good, we scored a great goal against Montana and we were able to post two shutouts,” Schott said in the statement. “To play well against two teams we see quite frequently was very nice.”

Team captain Dutra scored the lone goal against Montana. In just two seasons, Dutra is tied for the eighth spot in program history for assists. She led the team with four assists last season and is expected to surpass the program record of 13 assists at some point during this upcoming year.

The Vikings will kick off the spring season with a home game against Seattle University at Hillsboro Stadium and follow it up with a mouth-watering contest against perennial foes Oregon State in Corvallis. The team is also scheduled to play Western Washington and state rivals Oregon before summer break. Despite the challenging schedule, Schott is confident about the weeks ahead.

“I like where the team is at right now,” she said. “We’ve seen some good things on the field and they’re in a good place mentally.” ?