The Lady Oaks enter the 2012 season with a different look and feel, as they hope to take the jump towards California Pacific Conference supremacy under third year Head Coach Scott Myers. A 5-5 Cal Pac mark in Myers' first year at the helm back in 2010 moved to 2-4 last season, but with almost a completely new roster featuring 12 newcomers, there's a great deal of optimism surrounding the program.
"We have better players this year who are going to understand our style and type of play from the start," said Myers on the biggest difference between this season and the previous two. "Our returners are used to the coaching staff and the younger players will challenge some of our returners for playing time this year. Overall we have more depth and better athletes."
The depth of the club extends all the way to 23 deep, giving Myers and first year Assistant Coach Lindsey Evans a wide array of options. The team has 11 freshmen and sophomores, but because of the lengthy roster size, the coaching staff has the luxury of giving younger players a chance to develop.
Of the 23, Menlo welcomes back 11 returners, highlighted by senior Alison Hammond, junior Valerie Comstock, and sophomore Kayla Cisneroz. Hammond finished second on last season's squad with eight goals and 16 points, on her way to earning the Cal Pac's Newcomer of the Year honor.
"Allison should be a goal scorer for us," said the aforementioned Coach Myers. "She understands the offense very well, which in many ways is built to her strengths." Comstock will make the switch from defense to offense in an effort to use her impressive speed and agility to create more scoring chances, and as far as Cisneroz is concerned, Myers is excited for what she can bring to the table now as a sophomore. "Kayla is a strong center back who is consistent, and we hope she can be a vocal leader this year."
Of the 12 new Oaks to suit up in blue and white, junior defender Natalie Ingram, and freshman midfielder Joceyln Aguilar show a great deal of potential. Ingram comes to Menlo from West Valley Community College, and according to Myers, "she should help solidify our back line." For Aguilar, the native of nearby San Jose brings a strong work ethic, athleticism, and good technique into her Lady Oaks career.
Menlo will contend with a new look Cal Pac this year, as the conference has shifted into a two division alignment with the additions of Embry-Riddle (AZ), Marymount, Soka, and UC Merced. The Oaks will sit in the North division with defending conference champion William Jessup, Simpson University, and the aforementioned UC Merced. Although Menlo isn't in the same division with Marymount, Soka, and Embry-Riddle, the Lady Oaks will still have to clash with all three squads, but unfamiliarity shouldn't be of great concern. Menlo drew even with both Riddle and Marymount last season, but as far as Coach Myers is concerned, it's about controlling what you can control. "We are going to play our system and make them beat us at our best," claimed Myers.
Before the Lady Oaks even enter the Cal Pac slate, they will be tested out of conference and on the road. Menlo opens up the year at home against Bethesda Christian on Tuesday, August 28th, but then hits the road for five straight, including three games in the span of just four days in Washington. After the lengthy road trip comes to a close, the Oaks will head to Arizona for a pair against Embry-Riddle and Arizona Christian, before finally toeing the turf at Wunderlich Field for the second annual Menlo Invitational on September 14th.