Sebastian Vecchio has a succinct way of describing the Cal State Bakersfield women’s soccer team.
“We’re good, we’re talented, we’re young,” said Vecchio, who has 14 freshman on his 2019 roster.
Now in his second season as the Roadrunners’ coach, Vecchio hasn’t been shy about putting neophyte players into his lineup. He has started multiple freshmen in each of the first three matches with as many as 10 seeing valuable minutes.
While happy with his team’s 2-1 start, Vecchio has seen some expected growing pains as the season has gotten underway.
Freshman Jaden Skinner helped the Roadrunners earn their first season-opening win since 2015 with an early second-half goal in a 2-1 victory over Pacific on Aug. 22.
Classmate Chelsee Duran then pushed home a header against UC Riverside Thursday, before Skinner played the hero with a goal in double overtime, lifting the Roadrunners to a 2-1 win over a Highlander team that had beaten them in five of their previous six meetings.
But there have been some early bumps too. A defense that’s gotten off to a good start suffered a communication breakdown that allowed Idaho’s Maddie Haas to get an open look late in the first half, and her goal secured a 1-0 Vandal win on Aug. 26.
The defense also had a crucial breakdown in front of the net on Thursday, as Riverside’s Alexandra Hargrave found an open space and scored off a corner kick with just 1:58 remaining in regulation.
Entering his second season with the program, Vecchio says he’s fine with taking lumps early in the season, expecting it will pay dividends as this group gains more experience.
“It’s just a process,” he said. “It’s a matter of creating a culture where winning is expected. It’s going to take a little time but we’re on the right path.”
Vecchio is hopeful that path will lead the Roadrunners to unexpected places in 2019.
“We want to actually try to go and win (our conference),” he said. “We want to leave our mark in the WAC and we’re talented enough to compete in the league.
“Are we the top team in the league and the favorite to win? No. But do we have enough to get to that (point)? Absolutely.”
If the Roadrunners hope to prove they’ve made big strides since last year, they’ll have a great opportunity to do so Sunday, when they host a UNLV team that handed them the second-worst loss in program history last September.
The Rebels didn’t surrender a single shot in the first half and held a 32-5 shooting edge for the game, en route to a 6-0 blowout.
“I don’t want to remember anything about that match,” Vecchio said. “I’m really looking forward to this game just to see how far we came as a team from last year to this year.”
Sunday’s matchup kicks off at 1 p.m.