The Kansas State women’s soccer team is back together in Manhattan. They had their first press conference of the season on Thursday afternoon.
“We are excited for the year,” head coach Mike Dibbini said. “It’s a new norm, and we are adjusting every day. Players are excited and anxious and ready to get rolling here as we have some direction here with our schedule being announced.”
The schedule announced for this season, with the impact of COVID-19, features only conference games. Dibbini said the team understands the circumstances, and is happy that safety is a priority to players and coaches with the cancellation of the non-conference games.
“We obviously want to make sure our players are safe and healthy, and that is the priority right now and as we move forward,” Dibbini said. “Obviously not having those games at the beginning of the year makes it a challenge for us knowing that we don’t have those opportunities to play matches to get battle tested and prepare for the Big 12. So now we are going into a pretty big sprint. Nine matches in the Big 12 without being prepared with a lot of new players and returning players who have been off for six months.”
K-State is led by senior forward Brookelynn Entz, who has been a major part of the foundation of the program as it heads into its fifth season. Entz said this year more than before she has seen the team’s mentality change in training.
“It’s just every day we were coming out with intensity, we’re competing, it’s really good soccer,” Entz said. “That’s something I haven’t really seen in the past three years that I’ve been here. I feel like we’re very consistent and everybody is kind of at the same level now. We are all competing against each other and it’s going to be difficult to find positions on the field, and having that competitiveness at practice just really helps raise the level everywhere on the field.”
Junior Rachel Harris, who has taken over the starting goalkeeper role, said the team is as close in chemistry as it has ever been even after being separated from each other due to the quarantine.
“It’s kind of crazy to say, but I feel like we’ve been playing together for a long time and we only got back and started playing together a month ago,” Harris said. “Everybody’s sticking together, everything’s jelling. It’s really exciting to see and we’re excited for all of y’all to get to see what we’ve been doing here soon.”
Senior midfielder Maddie Souder thinks we will see a more attack-minded team this year. Scoring goals has been a struggle the past couple years, but Souder thinks that is going to change.
“I think overall we have become more attacking-minded,” Souder said. “We’ve always been a defensive team and we’re not going to forget those principles, but we’ve definitely been trying to pick it up.”
The girls and the coaching staff are excited about the improvements they have made and are continuing to make.
“We are ready to get out there and compete and play against someone other than ourselves, so we are excited about this fall,” Dibbini said.
Their first chance to display their improvements is in the season opener against Big 12 favorite Texas Tech on Friday, Sept. 11.