GCC women's soccer

Glendale Community College soccer player Ceci Nicolas, left, battles for the ball versus teammate Lilia Asserrian during practice at the school's field in Glendale. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

In recent seasons, the Glendale Community College women’s soccer team began competition during the final week of August. Things will be slightly different this upcoming season for the Vaqueros.

It’s with a specific purpose, Glendale college Coach Jorge Mena said.

“I’d rather start a little later this time because we have players who will have a little extra time to adapt to playing at the collegiate level and there won’t be any gaps in between our nonconference and conference games,” said Mena, whose squad will kick off play with a nonconference home match against Grossmont at 5 p.m. Sept. 5 at Sartoris Field. “Plus, they now have some more time to work on their strength and conditioning.

“These are all things we think can help us in the long run.”

Perhaps it might be a wise decision by Mena, who will have only three sophomores on board. Glendale will feature around 14 freshmen.

Glendale finished 7-8-6, 4-7-3 for fifth place in the Western State Conference South Division last season and missed the playoffs for the 10th season in a row.

Mena said a new wrinkle might change the program’s outcome.

“You want to play well in your nonconference games, so that you hit conference on the right note,” said Mena, a former conference Southern Division Coach of the Year honoree. “I’ve seen some good signs during our practices that are both tactical and physical.

“We lost nine starters from last year, so we are pretty young and rebuilding in some areas. If they can just apply themselves, then we have a good shot at doing well.”

Glendale freshman midfielder Brooke Forrester said the Vaqueros have received Mena’s message.

“We still have a lot to learn between now and our first game, but we are getting stronger,” Forrester said. “It’s good to have some extra time to get ready for the season.

“We feel like we have a team that can make some noise. If we can continue to see our confidence level grow, then maybe we can be a dangerous team to play against.”

The sophomores will consist of defenders Delia Pineda and Prisila Miranda and midfielder Perla Espinoza (Crescenta Valley High).

The freshman class will feature Courtney Campbell, defenders Paula Cabrera, Stephanie Gil and Christen Pena and midfielders Louise Andersson, Stephanie Castelan, Forrester, Lissette Menjivar and Perla Rincon. The freshmen forwards are expected to be Ninci Bueso and Noune Nikogosyan.

The Vaqueros will play four of their six nonconference matches on the road, with the last being Sept. 23 against San Bernardino Valley before beginning division action at home at 7 p.m. Sept. 30 against Bakersfield. Glendale will finish the regular season with a division road match against Santa Monica on Nov. 14.

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Follow Charles Rich on Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich .