Semester preview of Cobra athletics
Published: Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 14:08
The Parkland women's volleyball team is receiving a lot of hype, and rightfully so. The 2010 campaign was quite an impressive one as the Cobras notched 39 victories and only 12 losses. Numerous accolades were handed out including seven All Conference selections, five All Region selections, and two players receiving All American honors.
The defending Mid-West Athletic Conference champions will feature three returning players from a team that was ranked first in the nation at one point last season. Experiencing such success just a year earlier will be valuable in leading a team that consists of six freshmen. That sophomore leadership will be desperately needed as these freshmen become acclimated to the high level of competition. Practices have been intense, and bonds are being formed between the players.
The Cobras will begin the season ranked #10 in the nation. Assistant Coach Ron Hoppe spoke highly of his team and their current standing in the poll. "We see the ranking as an opportunity to prove we're one of the top contenders in the nation," he said. "Our girls and our staff know we have the talent level and desire to be a national championship contender and we're excited to begin that journey." That journey begins August 26th at the Southeastern Iowa CC Invitational.
There, they will face currently ranked #16 Kansas City CC; the first of at least fourteen Top 20 programs the women's volleyball team is matched up against this season. The first home game will be August 30, as #12 Kankakee pays Parkland a visit. Participants in all 51 matches a season ago, Nechelle Veal (2nd on team in total blocks), Devin Houser (2nd on team in total digs), and Melanie Moore (team leader in aces) are set to lead their squad to the elusive national championship.
On the forefront of Parkland athletics is the women's soccer team. After finishing the 2010 season with a record of 11-5-2, Head Coach Josh Alford's team is looking to make an impact on the national scene this year. With a balance of freshman and sophomores, the players will look to feed off of each other and push to the next level. Experience and leadership from the older players in combination with talent and excitement from the newer players should make for an exciting season.
In order for the Cobras women's soccer team to make any noise on the national scale, they must overcome a regional opponent first. September 24 is a day that has been marked on every player's calendar. That day is the day that they can avenge the 8-1 pounding suffered just a year earlier by the hands of the Trailblazers of Lewis & Clark CC, the defending regional champs. Though possibly burning in the minds of some players or coaches, that loss is not the only motivation to defeat Lewis & Clark. The Trailblazers are currently ranked #7 in the preseason polls. A victory here would not only satisfy revenge purposes, but give the Cobras a decided advantage in the event of a tiebreaker situation between the two clubs.
As any coach would tell you, you must focus on one game at a time. Therefore, the team is currently focused on its season opener scheduled for August 29; a home game against St. Louis CC. After that, the team will take a road trip to the Minnesota Kickoff Classic from September 2-4. The trip is highlighted by a match against currently ranked #12 Navarro College. With the return of the team's leaders in goals, assists, and both goal keepers, the Cobras are set to make a run towards the top.
Expected to kick up some dust as well is the Parkland Men's Soccer team. Head Coach Mark Sidora is looking to begin the season strong after finishing 2010 with a record of 9-9-0. This team has a high ceiling as it gears up for a tough schedule with multiple ranked opponents. The stage is set for the Cobras to boost their squad to the next level.
The Cobras plan to lean on the back of their nine sophomores for leadership and experience. The incoming class seems to mesh well with all of the experienced players. The diverse nature of the team seems to have done this club a great service. A mix of homegrown talent with a foreign influence makes the men's soccer team one of the more unique squads you will ever see. The different backgrounds and playing styles should make for an interesting bond between the players as well as the coaching staff and their approach to game planning. On the practice field, they appear to communicate well with each other, which will pay them a great service in the long run.
The general feeling around the team is there is nowhere to go but up. "We're playing five Top 20 teams this year," says assistant coach John Sadilek. "We've never been more excited. We have a fantastic group and high hopes." The return of their top two scorers (Douglas Andrade, Khody Ellis) should bode well for the Cobras as they tackle the list of ranked opponents on their schedule. There will be no time to lose focus as the season begins August 27th with #17 ranked North Iowa Area Community College. That game will be followed the very next day by another ranked opponent, #8 Iowa Western. The Cobras home opener is September 8 in a match versus Kaskaskia College. There will be multiple chances for the team to build their national resume. When asked if victory could be expected against all five ranked opponents on the schedule, Sadilek replies, "We would be very happy to get the first one." Those are the words of a coach focused on keeping the team on track and not looking too far ahead.
The 2011 campaign should make for an exciting one for Parkland athletics. Be sure to cheer on your Cobras!