FINISHING TOUCHES: RiverHawks' young squad prepares for 2023 season

Aug. 24—Right now the Northeastern State women's soccer team is focusing on getting ready for the 2023 season.

The RiverHawks boast a young team this season. With a lot of freshmen on the roster, head coach Chase Wooten and his coaching staff have been focused on making sure the young team is ready for the challenges of the college level.

"We are fairly young and I think while we recover pretty quickly, the learning style of play is a pretty big hurdle I am dealing with right now," Wooten said. "We have a pretty big freshmen class getting them to understand what the college level looks like and the pace of play compared to high school or club, it is not as swift as we would like it to be."

For the RiverHawks, a lot of work has been put in to make sure formations are right, and that the chemistry is clicking across the team.

"We are trying to do some things that are purposeful," Wooten said. "Each week we have some things that we want to improve on. When we are building our practices we make sure the core things are being taught, what we are doing is highlighting the bigger areas of focus. I think this has been a good exercise to make sure they are on point."

Despite having a young team the RiverHawks still have some leaders ready to step up and command the RiverHawks on the pitch. Wooten says that Hayley Garcia is a prime candidate to lead the young team.

"We work on this in the spring so it is ready in the fall," Wotten said. "We are not big on captains, to me a captain goes out and says heads and tails. I think captain and leadership can be wildly different things. We work on those things in the spring so we are not winning on leadership in August."

So far the RiverHawks have made it on the pitch against another team one time. On Aug. 15, the RiverHawks faced off against Connors State in a friendly.

For both teams, it was a win-win situation. This year is the first year CSU has had a women's soccer squad so it gave them a chance to get their feet wet the first time and it allowed the RiverHawks' young players to get on the field at the college level for the first time.

"I thought we did some good things," Wooten said. "For us it was a good practice, sometimes playing someone in a different jersey is enjoyable versus playing each other all the time. It served the function we were looking for. It served for us to see some kids to do some stuff outside of practice."

Wooten was key in determining what the RiverHawks will focus on over the next week and change.

"We have to be a little bit better around the goal," Wooten said. "In our system are we getting the right players with the ball? You can draw it on the chalkboard all you want but it is different out there."

With a young team, there are expectations of struggling early in the season. No matter what state the RiverHawks are in Wooten has a key philosophy.

"There will be learning curves through the first couple of games," Wooten said. "One of our big things is are you getting better? It doesn't matter how old or talented you are if you aren't getting better by the end of the year it doesn't matter. Hopefully, we can get off on the right foot to get the tone set for 2023."

The RiverHawks start their season at 5 p.m. on Sept. 1 against Ouachita Baptist at home.

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