Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Scott Nulph
WyoSports 

Cowgirls healthy, talented as 2017 begins

UW soccer believes it can compete with the best this season

 

August 22, 2017

COURTESY/ SHANNON BRODERICK/ Boomerang photographer

Summer Halle (3), kicks the ball as several other players fight for possession during a August 26, 2016, match against Montana.

LARAMIE – The University of Wyoming soccer program is getting tired of a couple of things. Getting injured and getting knocked out of the Mountain West Championship on the first day are at the top of that list.

The Cowgirls are hoping luck will be on their side with the first one and believe they have the talent to rectify the second.

Wyoming begins the regular season at 5 p.m. today at Baylor.

“The mentality is we’re all going for it this year,” Cowgirls senior goaltender Georgia Rowntree said. “We all feel like we’ve done ourselves a bit of an injustice the last couple of years in losing in the first round of the Mountain West tournament, and we don’t feel that’s represented our ability at all. If we can be healthy for an entire season, there’s no reason we can’t go all the way.”

Despite a large number of injuries last season – a total of nine Cowgirls missed at least one game due to injury – UW still registered the program’s third straight 10-win season at 10-6-4 and went 6-4-1 in Mountain West play to finish fourth overall.

All those injuries caught up with the Cowgirls in the MW tournament, falling 2-1 to Utah State in the first round. It was the second straight year UW lost in the opening round after making the championship game in 2014.

Sixth-year head coach Pete Cuadrado says Wyoming is almost completely healthy as the season begins in Waco, Texas.

“I feel like we’re solid across the board,” Cuadrado said. “We have a lot of players who are not in their first moments on the field. Right now we’re cleaning up things instead of learning it for the first time.”

Wyoming returns seven of 11 starters in the field and Rowntree in goal.

Included in that group is sophomore forward Michaela Stark – the team’s leading scorer. The Broomfield, Colorado, product led UW with six goals and 13 total points while second in shots on goal with 16. Stark also had three of the team’s 10 game-winning goals in 2016.

Stark will be joined up front by her sister, Brittney Stark, who sat out last season after transferring to Wyoming from Colorado.

Also back are senior midfielder Summer Halle (three goals, six points) and senior defenseman Alisha Bass (three goals, 10 points).

Other returners to score a goal for UW last season include junior defenseman Alyssa Murray, sophomore midfielder Brooklynn Mooney, junior defenseman Taylor Burton, senior forward Tristan Tyrrell, junior midfielder Annika Clayton and junior forward Jessie Gentle.

UW will also be bolstered by transfers in junior forward Jemma House from Laramie County Community College and junior midfielder Morgan McDougal from Oklahoma State.

“This year – more than any other year that I’ve been here – our attack is going to be very powerful,” Rowntree said. “We’ve got some excellent firepower up front, and we can’t wait to see what they can do.”

Rowntree was the mainstay for the Cowgirls last season, playing 1,852 of the team’s 1,859 minutes in goal. The Sydney, New South Wales, product recorded 75 saves and eight shutouts while giving up 1.12 goals a game.

However, Rowntree likely won’t see as much playing time as she did last season.

Cuadrado said the team has three quality goalies, including sophomore Cristina Salazar and freshman Riley Furbush. All three played in UW’s exhibition shutout win over South Dakota State last week.

“Our best depth right now might be at goaltender,” Cuadrado said.

The Cowgirls will face a daunting start to the nonconference schedule.

In addition to Baylor today, the Cowgirls will play at Kentucky on Aug. 27 after hosting Southern Utah in the team’s home opener Aug. 25.

Other nonconference highlights include home games against UTEP on Sept. 1 and Northern Colorado on Sept. 10.

“It’s the hardest nonconference schedule we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Cuadrado said. “It will get us more prepared for conference play than we have in years past. … Our team has had these games circled for a long time.”

UW begins MW play at Colorado College on Sept. 22 with its first conference home game a week later against Fresno State.

The Cowgirls were picked fifth in the MW preseason poll, a prediction the team believes is way too low.

“I have nothing less than the highest expectations from this team,” Rowntree said. “I think we can win the Mountain West conference and we can get our first NCAA bid. We just need to do the right things consistently, and we’ll be in great shape.”

 
 

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