AC Soccer Opens Season at Home on Thursday vs. Hill College
Angelina College head soccer coach Nataki Stewart was first hired for his new position in early 2020. A few weeks later, a worldwide pandemic shut down nearly everything, meaning Stewart would have to sit back and wait for his first appearance on the sidelines.
As of Thursday, his wait is over. The Angelina College Lady Roadrunners and Roadrunners will host a season-opening doubleheader against Hill College at Jase Magers Field on the Lufkin High School campus. Those will mark the first AC soccer matches since October of 2019.
Stewart said he doesn’t have much time to reflect on his own situation. Instead, he’s focused on ensuring the teams he and assistants Paul Murillo and Alex Meany field are ready to play.
“The big thing tomorrow is to make sure we’re organized,” Stewart said on Wednesday. “We’re applying the principles we’ve learned in the last three weeks, being competitive, and at the end of the day doing everything we can to win the game.”
Because of the different timing of junior college soccer – the teams don’t begin practicing until just a couple of weeks before the season begins – there’s very little time to build overall cohesion. Toss in that Stewart’s roster only features a few sophomores, including just one returning player from two years ago, and most coaches would be considerably worried about jumping into a new season.
Nevertheless, Stewart said his coaches and players have jumped straight into the program’s expectations and aren’t thinking of anything other than notching their new head coach’s first career AC wins.
“I’ve been very pleased with our kids,” Stewart said. “Their competitive energy is good, and after scrimmaging against each other every day, we can’t wait to play somebody else.
“We recruited some fantastic young people, and they’ve made our lives easier as far as getting ready for the season,” Stewart said. “We have a tremendous leadership group, and things have been carried out easily by our team.”
For Thursday’s doubleheader, attending fans are asked to “Orange Out” the bleachers at Jase Magers Field. Fans will have the opportunity to purchase oranges shirts at the gate.
Kickoff for the Lady Roadrunners is 5 p.m., with the Roadrunner men following at 7:30 p.m