Early preseason polls released by the American Southwest Conference put three Comet teams in high ranks as the teams prepare for the start of the season.
The ASC released the preseason polls for the volleyball and the two soccer teams on Aug. 13 and 16 respectively, two weeks before the season begins for all three teams. Before the announcement, the three teams were preparing for the start of the season, which began with a series of games on the weekend of Aug. 31.
Placed third in its preseason poll, women’s soccer finished third in the ASC championship last year after pulling off a 16-4 record overall. Head coach Kanute Drugan will lead the team again, marking his fifth season with the team, along with newly-hired assistant coach Shasta Fisher, who joined with the team on July 2. The team this year is composed of more seniors than in the past, which Drugan said she thinks will be the deciding factor in the games to come.
“We had a really good focus, there’s a lot of enthusiasm and energy. I think they’re excited about where we left off last year, which gives us momentum,” Drugan said. “For the first time in my five years we have seniors. We usually have one or two every year, but this year we have seven, so it’s refreshing to have people with experience and leadership capability that they’ve earned and built over their years here.”
Starting at second place on the ASC poll, the men’s soccer team ended the last season finishing third in the ASC Tournament. Head coach Jason Hirsch will continue to lead the team for his sixth season, boasting a 65-21-16 career record and two back-to-back ASC titles in 2015 and 2016. The team is a group of seniors, sophomores and juniors. Hirsch said the mixed nature of the group will create a stronger team dynamic overall.
“It’s all about competition — the best players play, so it’s about earning your time,” Hirsch said. “We’re trying to find the best players and the best fit for our team.”
Placed at the top of its poll, the women’s volleyball team has been the ASC Tournament champion for the past three years. Predictions from the ASC see the team continuing that trend with players such as junior middle blocker Lauren Schilling, who was included on the ASC’s “East Players to Watch” list for the 2018 season.
“The team is going to be on another level to watch this season,” Schilling said. “Any time I leave practice or team bonding, I leave with a feeling that something big and amazing is coming to UTD volleyball this year.”
Women’s volleyball won both of its Labor Day games with a 3-0 shutout, while men’s soccer secured a 3-2 victory against Colorado College and women’s soccer 2-0 against Hiram College.