Eau Claire (WQOW) -- The season begins this week for both Blugolds women's volleyball and women's soccer teams.
The WIAC sports information directors have projected 2nd-place finishes for both UWEC programs in 2010.
Last season, UW-Eau Claire women's soccer finished second in the WIAC with a 6-1-1 conference record. The Blugolds only graduated three seniors off that team, but return their top six leading scorers.
UWEC senior defender Andrea Hull says, "Those goal scorers can definitely help mentor the younger freshmen that we have on the team and some of the returners but defensively we're always focusing on getting that clean sheet so if we can keep the ball out of the net on our end, and we can have them continue that success from last year, it could be a good year for us."
Blugolds head coach Sean Yengo says, "I think it's a nice balance of new and returning that's really going to give us a depth that we haven't had in quite some time. Our ultimate goal is to push the envelope here a little bit with the pace of play and the tempo and how we play the game."
"Our returning sophomore class has just come very strong this year," says senior defender Megan Hillesheim, "you can tell they just worked so hard this summer and they're going to be great assets this year on the field."
Hull says, "Everyone came into the season in shape and so we don't have to worry so much about the fitness aspect and we're just working more on the technical and tactical skills and so I think we should be ready to go."
UWEC will host St. Olaf (MN) in a non-conference match Wednesday at 2:00 P.M.
UW-Eau Claire's women's volleyball team has made five straight trips to the NCAA Division III Tournament, and the Blugolds are looking for more success in 2010.
UWEC is ranked 13th in the Division III preseason coaches poll, but the Blugolds know that doesn't guarantee anything in the future.
"It's a fresh slate," says senior outside hitter Rachel Ver Voort, "we have to come in understanding that we may not be handed the success we've had in the past."
"All three years I've been here," says senior setter Amanda Lessner, "we've gone to the conference tournament and we've gone to the NCAA tournament so it's expected. It's what we should, we should be there."
Head coach Kim Wudi says, "I think that experience is going to help us down the road. They've also been defeated, they've had some tough losses and I think that has really centered them on what our goals are this year."
UW-Eau Claire will host the Labor Day Classic Tournament this weekend. The Blugolds will play two matches on both Friday and Saturday.