SE: Women’s Soccer Looks Forward to Debut Season

Following a year full of training, recruiting and working to build the program from the ground up, K-State women’s soccer is ready for what lies ahead.

The team, currently made up of 12 players with 23 more joining the roster throughout the summer months, now has its sights set on the program’s inaugural season beginning this fall.

“It’s been going really well so far,” said K-State head coach Mike Dibbini earlier this month. “We’re trying to work with the student-athletes that we have now and improve them technically and tactically as much as possible. We’re laying the foundation for the incoming student-athletes coming in this fall and building the culture of the team within the foundation.”

With nearly half of his team on campus, Dibbini and his coaching staff, made up of assistant coaches Jessica Smith and Gabe Romo and goalkeeper coach Tyler Watkins, is coming off a successful spring filled with training and team building. Throughout the spring semester, the team practiced five days every week with its workouts ranging from perfecting technique on the field to building strength in the weight room.

Along with the busy practice schedule, the Wildcats had the opportunity to get on the field and play together with scrimmages against K-State women’s and men’s club soccer teams, as well as the Creighton women’s club soccer team.

“The scrimmages really showed how excited we are,” said junior goalkeeper and team captain Miranda Larkin, a transfer from Oklahoma. “We really came together, took them very seriously and got the job done. Seeing that, I know we’re ready to go. One thing that’s going to be cool is we only had 12 players here this spring and we’re adding about 20 new players. Adding just five new players changes everything, but adding 20, it’s going to be really cool to see everybody come together this summer.”

The women’s soccer team kicks off its inaugural season on Friday, August 19, with a road matchup at St. Louis. The Wildcats’ upcoming schedule features four home matches, with the first-ever home K-State women’s soccer game taking place on Friday, Sept. 16, against Northern Iowa at the brand-new K-State Soccer Complex.

Though the team won’t begin Big 12 competition until the 2017 season, this fall’s schedule will provide K-State the opportunity to get used to playing together on the Division I level.

“It’s going to be survival in terms of competing, doing what we can and manipulating the game as much as we can,” explained Dibbini on his mindset heading into the team’s first season. “We will have to do a lot of coaching our first couple of years because, though the talent will be there, the chemistry and the cohesion of the team in learning, adapting and going through adversity, it’s not there yet. It’s a new territory that we’re going into.”  

Though there will be challenges in the program’s first few years, the amount of support shown from the Manhattan community has made the transition to a women’s soccer program easier for both K-State Athletics and Dibbini. The K-State Soccer Founder’s Club already has nearly 1,100 members from 38 different states, and as it continues to grow, it has continued to build excitement for upcoming season.

“The community has really engaged us, and we’ve engaged them,” said Dibbini. “We’ve been fully supported and whether it’s through the university or throughout the town, there’s a lot of buzz going on. The number of Founder’s Club members and season ticket holders is amazing, and we haven’t even played a game. I think that goes to show that women’s soccer is going to be an attraction here, and we’re excited about it.”

One of the leading supporters of the Founder’s Club is recent Manhattan High School graduate Bryan Armbrust. Knowing he would be attending K-State this fall, Armbrust started the Cats Den Club, a group of supporters throughout the community with the hope of spreading enjoyment for soccer in Manhattan and creating the best atmosphere for women’s soccer in the Big 12.

“We have received tremendous support from the K-State Athletic Department, the Manhattan community and the K-State coaches,” explained Armbrust. “We first started by sending an email to (Athletics Director) John Currie, who responded with great enthusiasm and got us meeting with the right people. The athletics department has been very supportive and have allowed us to make connections with other clubs, K-State students and alumni. We’re all super excited to see the K-State women's soccer team take the field. It has been fun watching the team grow, and I can't wait to see them play. We hope to have huge crowds at all the games with waving flags and chanting all game long.”

With coaches who have spent the past 18 months diligently working to build the program, players who have spent the past year training and preparing to compete, and a community of passionate fans behind it who have already shown great passion and excitement for the team, K-State women’s soccer is ready to train hard this summer and hit the pitch for its first season.

“We really have nothing to lose,” said Dibbini of the team’s first season. “The pressure is always going to be on the opponent because they’re playing a first-year team. So we have nothing to lose and a lot to gain in terms of experience. I want to play as much as we can and as many games as we can to prepare for the following year, which I feel will be very important.”