WebXtra: AC Roadrunners preparing for new soccer season at new on-campus field
LUFKIN, Texas (Press Release) - Angelina College’s soccer programs have released their 2022 schedules, and while the match lineup promises plenty of excitement all season long, both the women’s and men’s squads will have as their mantra, “One more game.”
The idea stems from last season, when both the Lady Roadrunners and Roadrunners achieved national rankings, played in the postseason and established multiple records – all on the heels of a one-year layoff because of the pandemic. For outsiders, the programs exceeded expectations.
Head coach Nataki Stewart, his staff, and his players, however, wanted more.
“Truthfully, we didn’t accomplish everything we wanted last year,” Stewart said. “We’ve spent the spring semester ensuring our student-athletes were working hard to improve. We certainly weren’t satisfied with how the season ended. We thought we had the quality to play in one more game or even the national tournament. We spent a lot of time over the past six months evaluating where we can get better. The expectation now in is taking that next step.”
Adding to the anticipation is the fact the teams will now compete in their own, brand-new soccer facility on the AC campus after spending the past few years playing at Lufkin High School. A dedication ceremony will take place prior to the first regular-season home match on August 24th, when the women and men will host North American University in a doubleheader.
Prior to the regular-season opener, AC soccer will host a pair of scrimmages: The women and men face John Melvin University on Wednesday, August 10 and Wiley College on Saturday, August 13. The teams open the regular season on the road at Eastern Oklahoma State College on August 18.
All told, there will be 10 home stands (including the two home scrimmages) allowing fans to get in on the excitement. Those home matches will be live-streamed on angelinaathletics.com.
Also on the schedule is a road game at the University of St. Thomas, which happens to be Stewart’s alma mater.
Scheduling matches against four-year schools are part of the program’s plan both to crank up the competition level while gaining AC players valuable exposure.
“Any time we can put our student-athletes in front of four-year colleges, we do that,” Stewart said. “That’s the first part. As for the University of St. Thomas, that is going to be two special games because it’s my alma mater and also where I started my coaching career.”
In late September, the teams will embark on a four-game stretch away from home. That, too, is by design, according to Stewart.
“For us, it’s important that we find ways to win away from home,” Stewart said. “If you look at last season, our record at home was pretty good (the Lady ‘Runners were 7-1, while the men were 8-2). We want to learn how to get positive results on the road, especially when we play in a Region 14 league that has 3-4 nationally-ranked teams.”
Despite the mounting anticipation of a new season, Stewart said his teams will always focus on one game at a time.
“To be honest with you, we’ve always taken the mindset of controlling what we can,” Stewart said. “The only thing we can control in the buildup to all of this is ensuring we’re
bringing in players with the right character and skill set. At the end of the day, you have to play the games, regardless of who you play.
“We’ll focus on us and how we prepare for each opponent,” Stewart said. “Right now, the next thing we’re worrying about is August 10.”
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