Special to The Commercial/Bo Rogers
UAPB senior Casey Hogan works on ball control during Thursday’s practice.
After losing the first two games of the season by a combined score of 9-0, Arkansas-Pine Bluff soccer coach Rohan Naraine remains upbeat about the direction of the program.
“Its good that we got those two games out of the way,” Naraine said before Thursday afternoon’s practice. “We have one player missing for (today’s) game. But we also got another one eligible. So we have 12 and that will help. When we get them all together it will be even better.”
The Lady Lions host Western Illinois at 4 p.m. today at Pumphrey Field on the UAPB campus, the first of a two-game homestand that concludes Wednesday against Louisiana-Monroe.
“These will be some good teams for us,” Naraine said. “It will be some good experience. And our schedule doesn’t let up after that. We have a tournament and some other tough teams coming up before going to Jackson State (Sept. 28) to open the conference.”
With the loss of several recruits and a patchwork team of newcomers, Naraine expected to struggle early in the season.
“I think they are more settled in now,” Naraine said. They are more confident now and are gaining that every day. We just have to start putting away some goals.”
UAPB has been stifled on offense, mainly due to Naraine having to jostle the lineup to fill voids on the field with players unaccustomed to those positions.
“We have switched some people around,” Naraine said. “Molly Stone is doing a great job on defense but she is a true midfielder. She’s a dynamic player. She can play anywhere. But I think it’s best for us to leave her on defense for a little while.”
That makes way across the midline for other newcomers to those positions. But some of that will change since Naraine cleared incoming freshman Kristien Moore this week. Moore is a forward from Atlanta.
“Kristien will play up front,” Naraine said. “We will look at some different people around the rest of the field. Right now we are trying everything. We’ll play some other people in the back eventually but we have to generate some offense.”
That’s something the Lady Lions haven’t been able to do while converted sophomore defender Kristy Martinez has allowed nine goals in her first two starts at the college level.
“We may put Alyssa (Cobbs) in goal at some point because she is coming off knee surgery,” Naraine said. “ We need to give her time to develop and get stronger. Like I said, we are going to try everything. I don’t mind.”
Something else Naraine doesn’t mind is the disposition of the team.
“The attitude has been wonderful, even after the last two games,” he said. “They are working hard and that’s all I can ask for as a coach. I just want some better results for them. They have worked hard and deserve that.”