The 2022 season didn’t go as planned for the CSUDH women’s soccer team, but Interim Head Coach Danielle Jones is ready to turn the page.
“We had a good group of young women last year, but we just didn’t click as a team like we had hoped,” says Jones, who is in her first year in charge of the squad. “We’re looking forward to changing that this year.”
Despite starting last season with high hopes, the losses quickly began to add up. The team ended the season with a disappointing 1-13-4 record. “It was a rough, rough go,” admits Jones. “But we have a good opportunity now to rebuild the program. The assistant coaches and I have had a lot of time to think about all the things that we want to do in the future. I think we’ve put together a really good culture and a solid plan for what we plan to do this year.”
When Jones brought the team together for spring practice, the emphasis was on recapturing the joy of playing soccer. “We wanted the players to start having fun again,” says Jones. “We just let them play–they did small-side games, worked on fitness and technical things, and just let them be college athletes.
“I think that really helped. I saw a lot of growth from so many of them being able to find their voice or their playing style.”
The squad returns only ten players from last season’s team, but Jones and her staff have bolstered their ranks through a whirlwind recruiting process. Overall, the team is bringing in 21 new players from the junior college and high school ranks. “We did a lot of work to bring this squad together, and our roster is pretty stacked now,” says Jones.
Jones has spent the off-season meticulously planning for this year. “I feel like we’re starting from the ground up, in a very positive and methodical way,” she says. “I have all my practice sessions planned for months!”
This season will be one of transition, as the team adapts to new coaching and looks to get the program headed back in the right direction. “I’ll measure success as how we change the culture,” says Jones. “Is everyone bought into what we’re doing? Is everyone competing? As long as we’re competing every day and everyone comes in with intensity, that’s going to be a positive step.”
Jones knows that wins will be hard to come by in the ultra-competitive California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA), but wants her team to embrace the challenge. “There are never easy games in our conference,” says Jones. “It’s high-level competition, and that’s what we’re trying to build here. This year, I just want our players to enjoy their experience, have fun, and be competitive. I think it’s going to be a turnaround season for us.”
She encourages Toro students to come out and support the squad as they rebuild a winning culture. “We’re going to be fast, aggressive, brave in the air–I’m very attack-minded and the team will always be looking to go forward. We’re definitely going to give you a show. We’re building something new and can use all the support we can get from the students!”
The CSUDH women’s soccer team plays their home opener against Concordia University Irvine on Friday, Sept. 8 at 5:00 p.m., at Toro Stadium. Their complete schedule is available at https://gotoros.com/sports/womens-soccer/schedule.