Head coach Randy Dedini starts his sixth season at home on Sunday versus Nevada.
Head coach Randy Dedini starts his sixth season at home on Sunday versus Nevada.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Following a pair of exhibition games, women's soccer head coach Randy Dedini sat down for a Q&A where he shared his thoughts on each position heading into the 2012 season. 

Dedini is starting his sixth year at the helm of the women's soccer program. The Vacaville native has led the Hornets to a pair of conference titles in his first five seasons and is excited about his 2012 roster. The Hornets open up the regular season on Sunday with a home game against Nevada. 

Q: Goalkeeper will be a major story this season with the graduation of four-year starter Savannah Abercrombie. With three keepers on the roster, how has the position battle gone thus far?

Dedini: It's been competitive. Kim Mata and Shelby Tomasello both have the edge right now on freshman Hannah Gendron because those two have been training their butts off for three years, waiting for this opportunity, waiting for Savannah to graduate. It's really close right now, but one of those two will step in. Both of them have looked really good and both have been, probably, as strong as Savannah was last season. We will use both of them in the beginning of the year and then hopefully one will clearly be the starter. It's going to be a tough choice.

Q: You also have to replace a couple starters on defense in Shea Roberts and Laura Bahno. Who has stepped up?
Dedini: Our back line is young, but actually they have been very strong so far. Shea and Bahno had a ton of experience and we will miss that the most but I think our defense will be very good once they build some chemistry. Jordyn Rolling will be solid (after moving from forward) plus freshmen McKenna Swansonand Kassidy Kellogg are both very athletic and we feel really good about both of them. Gabriela Trentonis coming back and she has experience back there. Alyssa Anderson is another young player who could be special. Not too many people will be able to beat her speed. Even though we're young, we feel really good about the back line and who we have this year.
Q: Unlike the defense, you return three starting midfielders and added a bunch of players in this year's recruiting class. Will midfield be a strength this season?
Dedini: Our midfield is one area where I think we will be even better than last year because of the young players coming in and who we have back. We have Jessica Castaño coming back, Megan Burgand Victoria Ramirez too, plus we picked up Raylene Larot (transfer from Nevada). She will be a very good playmaker for us. Jennifer Lum, a freshman from Folsom, is looking pretty good. Jessica Small(transfer from Cal State Northridge) too. We will probably redshirt a couple of our young players, just because of all the numbers we have there. McKenna Swanson could also step up to a holding mid position. We have a lot of talent here. We're really excited about that.
Q: Jordan Carlberg is back at forward but you also return senior Elece McBride, who redshirted last year. What will she bring this season?
Dedini: It's going to be great to have Elece back. Before she redshirted last season she was the Big Sky tournament MVP (in 2010). She is a dynamic forward who can score on half chances and she is great with her back to goal and turning players. Having her back along with Jordan is great. Jordan is one of our captains and a real leader of this team. We can also push Victoria Ramirez up to forward where she can give us some scoring. Maggie Pleis, a freshman, has been very good up there. Kassidy Kelloggand Alyssa Anderson can also play up top as well. We used Kassidy at forward in one of our exhibition games and she made a couple dangerous runs. Like at midfield, we have a lot of depth at forward. We want to put teams under a lot of pressure, so keeping our forwards fresh is important. We feel like we can go to the bench and not lose something. 
Q: What are you most excited about with this year's team?
Dedini: Depth is the biggest thing for us this year. If somebody is tired or not playing well we can make a change and use someone who might be a little bit more on their game that day. Last year we primarily played 13 or 14 players all year and by the end of games we were starting to get tired and we lost a couple games late. This year we have a ton of depth and we'll be able to keep players fresh. I don't think we will have that lull at the end of games like we had last year. We should actually be able to do that to other teams. The depth that we have is a key component to playing the way we want to play and keeping teams under pressure for a full game instead of bit and pieces. We are going to make teams work for a full 90 minutes.