GLENDALE — In preparation for the upcoming 11-week season, the members of the Glendale Community College women’s soccer team were put through a stretch of rigorous exercise sessions.
Glendale Community College women’s Coach Jorge Mena has seen the Vaqueros lose their fair share of players to injuries in recent seasons, prompting him to put his current cast of athletes to the test of building strength and stamina by having them run three miles per day and doing cardiovascular drills.
“It’s a long season and the last thing we want is another bunch of injuries,” said Mena, whose team will kick off its season at 5 p.m. Aug. 30 with a nonconference home match against College of the Desert at Sartoris Field. “We hope to get that break of having no injuries.
“If we can stay healthy, then I think we have a team that can be very competitive and do some good things. Right now, the practices have been good and they look to be in shape. You have no control over injuries of any kind. If you lose two or three players to injury, then you are limited and you tend to struggle more. We want to maintain our strength and conditioning.”
The Vaqueros also hope the workouts translate into success on the field after finishing 3-18 and 2-12 in the Western State Conference’s South Division for seventh place last season. Glendale missed the playoffs for the ninth season in a row.
Mena, who was named the conference's Southern Division Coach of the Year in 2002, said the Vaqueros appear to have a foundation in place to try to contend for a possible playoff berth.
“You should always be aiming to go to the playoffs,” said Mena, who plans to field a team of 23. “It starts with having a good work ethic.
“We play in a conference that’s been strong for a long time. I think we have good players spread out evenly from the defense up to the forwards. We have some defenders who are technically sound. My responsibility is to get the best out of them.”
Glendale will have eight sophomores and 15 freshmen.
The sophomores will consist of defenders Audrey Alegria, Sheila Araji, Valerie Enciso, Lidia Fernandez and Cecilia Nicolas and midfielders Daisy Mendez, Talia Kalfayan and Cecilia Martinez.
The freshman class will include goalkeepers Andrea Guerra and Perla Espinoza, defenders Wendy Ceron, Maribel Flores, Delia Pineda and Sharis Sarkissian, midfielders Lilia Assarain, Stephany Bracamonte, Thalia Eufracio, Stephanie Fores, Leana Mosesian and Jazmine Rocha and forwards Monet Estrada (Holy Family), Karen Lopez and Elizabeth Mendoza.
Martinez, a Crescenta Valley High graduate who played at GCC in 2011, said the Vaqueros enter the season brimming with confidence.
“We seem to be connecting a lot throughout the practices and we can’t wait for the season to start,” Martinez said. “We will just try to go out there and get as many wins as we can and see where that leads to.”
Glendale will be familiar with Sartoris Field during the first part of the season. The Vaqueros’ first seven matches will be at home before beginning division play Oct. 1 at Citrus. The Vaqueros will play their first three division matches on the road before returning home to meet College of the Canyons, which won the division title last season, on Oct. 11. Glendale will conclude the regular season with a division home contest against Bakersfield on Nov. 15.