There will definitely be a new look to the Barton women’s soccer team this season.
Headlining the new look Cougars will be new coach Ousmane Camara. Camara takes over after serving as an assistant to Aaron Avila the past two seasons. Camara also played for Barton in 2010.
“I am looking forward to this,” Coach Camara said. “I feel I am ready after two years here learning with Coach Aaron (Avila) and other coaches over the years . I am ready to step into this role and go from there.”
He will not be the only new face on the field. In fact 14 freshman and one sophomore are new to the team this season.
The Cougars will return just five players from last year’s team that finished 9-7 and advanced to the Region VI semifinals.
“Those five sophomores returning could be leaders for me,” Coach Camara said. “I hope they really help prepare the freshmen to step up.”
Two of the returning sophomores started every game last year. Adriana Reyes and Hannah Knaak both started all 16 games in the back line for the Cougars.
Rachel Craft is also back after playing in all 16 games and scoring two goals. Brooke Russell is the leading returning scorer with four goals last season and Megan Martinez scored one.
But it will the 15 new players who will probably determine the success of the 2016 Cougars.
“We brought in class of freshmen I feel are going to be assets,” Coach Camara said. “We have kids from England, Paraguay, Brazil, and Australia as well as Texas, Colorado, Utah, Mississippi and some very good players from right here in Kansas.”
With all the new faces – including at coach – Camara said making strides in the preseason and early season will be key.
“I have faith in them,” Coach Camara said. “I always tell the girls Rome was not build in one day. They went step by step to get there.
“Hopefully by the time the season gets here we have confidence and fitness to play together as a team. Those are the things we are working on.
“Hopefully we can work together as a team and put a product out there that fans want to see. That is what I hope we are able to do.”
The Jayhawk Conference has been split into a West and East division this season with Barton picked to finish third in the West. Hutchinson is picked to win the West followed by Dodge City, Barton, Garden City and Pratt.
Butler and its five straight NJCAA tournament appearances will be in the East where they are picked to win that half of the conference. Butler starts the year ranked No. 2 in the nation.
The season will get started Wednesday with a trip to Oklahoma to take on Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa. Tonkawa will provide a great season-opening test, ranked No. 20 in the NJCAA.
The Cougars will open at home on Friday when Northeast Community College visits the Barton Sports Complex for a 2 pm contest.