Braves soccer season opens Thursday
Published 11:47 am Wednesday, August 17, 2022
LORMAN, Miss. – The 2022 edition of Alcorn State Soccer gets underway Thursday, Aug. 18, as the Braves play host to Southern Utah at Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi in Vicksburg, Mississippi at 6 p.m. For Alcorn State, this is the second time in as many years the Purple and Gold are opening the season in nearby Vicksburg, hometown of Head Coach Kevin Larry.
THE GAME: Alcorn State Braves (0-0, 0-0 SWAC) vs. Southern Utah Thunderbirds (0-0, 0-0 WAC)
WHEN: Thursday, Aug. 18, at 6 p.m. CST
WHERE: Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi (Vicksburg, Miss.)
IN THE RANKINGS
Neither Alcorn State nor Southern Utah are ranked in the preseason poll of the United Soccer Coaches Top 25 entering Thursday evening’s contest.
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SERIES VS. SOUTHERN UTAH
This will be the first-ever meeting between the Alcorn State Braves and Southern Utah Thunderbirds.
ABOUT SPORTS FORCE PARKS ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi is a multi-functional sports facility in Vicksburg, Mississippi, located just around 45 miles away from the Alcorn State University campus in Lorman. The facility features professional-level synthetic turf fields, in addition to on-site recreation and entertainment options with high quality concessions. Throughout the year, the facility hosts a number of tournaments including youth baseball, softball, soccer, football and more.
YEAR THREE OF THE KEVIN LARRY ERA
Head Coach Kevin Larry is entering into his third competitive coaching season at the helm of the Alcorn State Soccer program. Larry coached the Braves during the COVID-rearranged season of 2020/21 when the team played largely a Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) schedule in spring 2021, as well as the traditional fall 2021 campaign. To-date, Larry holds an overall record of 4-24-1 in his time in Lorman.
ALCORN PREDICTED TO FINISH 8TH IN SWAC
Alcorn Soccer was predicted to finish eighth in the 2022 SWAC Predicted Order of Finish, released by the league office Friday, Aug. 12, from the conference headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama.
EXPERIENCE MATTERS MOST
The Braves welcome back eight starters from the 2021 campaign in which the team finished 3-14-01 overall (1-7-1 SWAC). Returning to the starting lineup is sophomore forward Charlie Bal, as well as redshirt senior midfielder D’Ana Prieto. Both Bal and Prieto tied atop the Alcorn goal scoring ranks a season ago with two goals apiece, while Prieto also turned provider with an assist from her midfield position on the pitch. Goalkeeper Vivian Lugo returns as a starter between the sticks from year’s campaign, just as defenders Natacia Ruiz and Audrey Williams return to the back of line of Larry’s traditional 4-3-3 setup.
FRESH FACES ON THE HORIZON
Alcorn has a total of 13 newcomers to this year’s roster, ranging in all areas from the keeper to the striker position. Two goalkeepers are new to the program in the form of Hinds Community College transfer Paula Argelaguet (Barcelona, Spain) and freshman Olivia Johnlouis (Lafayette, La.). The defense welcomes five players to the fold in the form of Tayler Boudreaux (West Hills, Calif.), Ha’Teya Holloman (Marietta, Ga.), Briana Johnson (Inglewood, Calif.), Morgan Lawson (Dublin, Ohio) and Karrianne Rodriguez (San Juan, Puerto Rico). The midfield has three new faces with Zea Anderson (Basalt, Colo.), Ilaya Pata (Zoetermeer, Netherlands) and Rachel Rudio (San Marino, Calif.). Meanwhile, the attacking front sees Aniya Mitchell (Cleveland, Miss.) and Samara Nunn (Parkersburg, W.V.) join fellow newcomer Kaylin White (Vail, Ariz.) up top.
ALCORN SIGNS GATORADE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Freshman forward/winger Samara Nunn was named the 2021-22 Gatorade Player of the Year for the State of West Virginia out of Parkersburg South High School in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Known as a prolific scorer, Nunn was tabbed West Virginia High School Soccer Coaches Association Class AAA (3-A) Player of the Year and a United Soccer Coaches All-South Region performer following her senior season in 2021, en route to breaking several school records under Head Coach Ron Bucholtz and the Patriots program. In 2021, she registered 13 multi-goal performances, including six hat tricks.
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which leverages experts including coaches, scouts, media and others as sources to help evaluate and determine the state winners in each sport.
RECAPPING THE 2021 FALL SEASON
In what would be his first fall season at Alcorn State, Head Coach Kevin Larry and the Braves Soccer program continued to develop and work towards the future with a tough nonconference schedule, in addition to the already grueling SWAC slate on-hand. The Braves began the 2021 fall campaign with a clean sheet victory courtesy an 11-0 score line over nonconference foe Talladega in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Back in the friendly confines of Jack Spinks – Marino Casem Stadium, the Braves captured another nonconference win, this time using a 2-1 score line over Nicholls State. Alcorn closed the year with a SWAC win against in-state opponent Mississippi Valley State on the road, using a 7-2 decision in the Braves’ favor. Throughout the campaign, it was sophomore goalkeeper Vivian Lugo, a native of Houston, Texas, seeing most of the time between the sticks for the Braves, as she finished the season ranked amongst the league’s best in several categories, including Saves per Game (4th), Goals Against Average (7th), Saves (7th) and Shutouts Per Game (7th). In the classroom, the Braves soccer team turned in a team grade point average (GPA) of 3.44 – the third-highest among all Alcorn teams for the 2021-22 academic term.
Following the season opener against Southern Utah, the Braves return home to the friendly confines of Jack Spinks – Marino Casem Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 21, for a nonconference matchup with fellow SWAC member Grambling State at 11 a.m.