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No. 16 Olivia Barton keeps her eyes on the ball. (Kelly Watkins / The Signpost)

After an impressive 7-1-1 conference season last fall, the Weber State University women’s soccer team is preparing to kick off another season. The Wildcats will take the field with a new coach and a tough non-conference schedule beginning in August.

With Tim Crompton, last year’s Big Sky Coach of the Year, taking over as the WSU interim athletic director for the 2019/20 school year, longtime goalkeeper coach Meagan Thunell takes over the reins as interim head coach after 14 seasons as Crompton’s assistant.

Thunell graduated from WSU in 2001 and hasn’t been a head coach since 2004 when she led Mountain Crest High School.

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(Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

“We’re not pushing reset. We’re just moving forward,” Thunell said. “I’ve retained Mike Manning as my assistant. We are primed to be a good team.”

A coaching change can create difficult transitions for players, but senior midfielder Megan Price is optimistic about the team’s success.

“I love Meagan. I think she is perfect for the job. She’s going to continue on with (Coach Crompton’s) philosophy,” Price said. “I trust her completely to lead our team to greatness.”

The Wildcats claimed the 2018 regular season title with a 7-1-1 conference record, but fell short in the conference semifinals to the eventual tournament champion, Montana Grizzlies.

“Montana beat us in the final (game) and there’s gonna be a lot of emotion in that game,” junior defender Haley Thomas said.

Flitton likewise views Montana as a tough opponent this year and wants to prove they are the better team.

“Based on last season, we have a lot of motivation to beat them and really show them who the better team is,” Price said.

The 2019 Wildcat soccer season begins with an exhibition game on August 15 against Colorado College at Wildcat Soccer Field, and then hits the road for a month before returning to play their only non-conference home game against the Fresno State Bulldogs.

The schedule includes road games against notable non-conference opponents such as Pac-12 members Arizona, Arizona State and California Berkley.

The ’Cats will also take on Mountain West programs Utah State, Nevada and Boise State on the road.

The Wildcats begin their Big Sky home campaign on September 27 against Sacramento State. Other home matches include conference rivals Portland State, Idaho State and Eastern Washington.

The team finishes the regular season on the road against in-state rival Southern Utah in Cedar City on October 27.

Thunell expects another successful season on the pitch. “We have motivated players in our upperclassmen and an excellent group of kids coming in. I feel really positive about the direction that the program is going,”

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