Cal State Bakersfield's women's soccer team has the honor of having the university's first collegiate athletic event of the 2013-14 academic year.
The Roadrunners open their season at 7 tonight against Gonzaga at CSUB's Main Soccer Field. Bakersfield hosts Eastern Washington at 3 p.m. Sunday to conclude its season-opening weekend.
The Roadrunners, who went 4-14-1 last season, including 3-8-1 in their inaugural Western Athletic Conference season, will debut head coach Gary Curneen tonight.
Curneen had a 95-48-8 record in nine seasons at Wingate University. He was on the staff at the University of Cincinnati last season.
Curneen, 33, is implementing new offensive and defensive sets for CSUB and has been busy putting his personal touches on the program.
"It's a big culture change," Curneen said of what he's bringing to CSUB. "Everything needs to be ripped open and start over."
Curneen was introduced as the new coach March 4. By then, this season's team was already in place.
The primary goal is to earn one of six spots in the WAC Tournament. Chicago State and Texas-Pan American are offering the sport for the first time this season. The WAC is an eight-team league.
"That's an achievable goal with what we've got," he said. "Reaching the conference tournament would allow us to go where this program's never gone before."
One of the top returners is Sweden native Hedda Regefalk, the WAC Freshman of the Year last season who tied for the team lead with four goals and added two assists.
Senior defender Sarah Cook was a second-team All-WAC player who started every match last season, but Curneen said she'll be sidelined the first few matches this season because of a knee injury.
Tori Ornela and Megan Vina return at goalkeeper, and Curneen said they could share playing time early this season.
Taylor Wheeler, Becca Ellis and Taylor French return at defender. Alex Bachman and Haley Hatfield are back at midfield and joining Regefalk as forward returnees are Megan Todd and Whitney Strong, a Bakersfield High graduate.
Junior college transfer Danielle Leon from Paradise Valley College in Arizona and freshman Maja Green from Sweden are newcomers who could provide some offensive punch.
"There's been huge progress in the last couple of weeks," Curneen said. "The girls are buying into what we're doing. Everyone is working harder, and everyone is committed to it. But at the same time, I'm not sure if the progress is translated into top-level Division I play. There's no doubt we will learn quickly where we are."
CSUB has not had a winning season since the 2000 squad went 10-4-1. CSUB has not won more than six matches in a season since moving to Division I in 2007.