THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Returning from one of the most successful seasons in program history, the Cal Lutheran Regals soccer program head into the 2018 season as the projected No. 19 Division III program in the nation by the United Soccer Coaches poll.
The team wrote last season into the record books, reaching their first Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA postseason tournament in program history. The Regals boasted a 16-4-3 record overall and 11-1-2 conference record to clinch the SCIAC regular season title.
"Obviously I am proud of our season and post season run and we want to build on that. However, this is a new group and we will see how the pieces fit together. I love the group and am excited to see how they will perform and build on our culture," said head coach Frank Marino.
Notable returners from last year include Trinity Martinez, the 2017 SCIAC Newcomer of the Year. As a freshman, she recorded three goals and six assists in her 21 caps. Her performance as a defender additionally earned her NCAA Division III All-West Region Second Team honors.
Joining her in the backline are juniors Riley Martin and Zandra Stewart. Martin returns to the pitch after missing the back-half of 2017 due to injury. Stuart started 18 games for the Regals last season and served as a solid penalty shooter for the team, including one of the five shots that defeated Pacific Lutheran and sent the team to the Sweet 16 last year.
Holding down midfield are 2017 all-conference honorees Maddy Griess and Sarah Tadeusiak. Griess was named to the all-conference first team as a sophomore, notching two goals and three assists in her 21 games. Alongside her, Tadeusiak was also named to the all-conference second team as a junior, starting in 21 games and scoring the game-winner against Redlands.
Up top, Sam Cornejo proves to be an early offensive threat. Her seven goals, including two against Whittier, as a freshman last season earned her second team All-SCIAC and third team All-West Region accolades.
The biggest question for the Regals, however, is who will join Cornejo offensively.
"We're returning a lot of players from last year, but we lost some key players, especially up top, so finding ways to score is going to be one our biggest challenges. We have to create chances to score."
Ten new incoming faces also proves to be hurdle for the 2017 SCIAC Coaching Staff of the Year. Marino and assistants Jonathan Decker, Kiki Bailey and Shannon Pennington expect growing pains early on.
"Having five road games to start the season is also going to be tough, and an adjustment for some of the incomers who haven't traveled before," but the staff is confident in their leadership to step up and guide the new class.
"Our leaders have a clear understanding of our style, how we play and what's expected. They understand our culture and our rules within our system. For us, it's important that we have a culture of people that support each other. That serve the community and serve each other, but are also dedicated to winning."
The Regals open their season at Augsburg in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Friday, August 31, at 7 p.m. CDT.
Regals Schedule: 2018 Schedule
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Release by Christy Effendie, Assistant Sports Information Director