Louisiana hosts Mississippi Valley State at 7 p.m. in Cajun Field

LOUISIANA La. - Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns women's soccer program will jump start the 2003-04 athletics season at the University of Louisiana and debut its 2003 team Saturday evening in a 7 p.m. exhibition match against Mississippi Valley State at Cajun Field.

The match will be the first of 11 (10 during the regular season) for the Cajuns this season at Cajun Field and will kick off the fourth season in program history.

Admission is free of charge to all. The two teams will play two, 45-minute halves.

The Ragin' Cajuns, coming off of a 6-9-3 season in 2002 and a fourth-place finish in the Sun Belt Conference, return six starters and a total of 12 members from last season's squad.

The Cajuns will field a total of 26 players among which six are upperclassmen, eight are sophomores and 12 freshmen.

Lafayette native Ashley Delahoussaye is the lone senior on the team. Delahoussaye highlights a list of five Lafayette area players, which also includes St. Thomas More product Marielle Phillips who is a sophomore who returned to her roots after transferring from Centenary College.

Other Lafayette natives on the roster are Anna Brannon (freshman, goalkeeper), Ainsley Breaux (sophomore, midfielder) and Natalie Hanks (junior, defender).

The Cajuns will have a familiar name in goal as sophomore goalkeeper Liza Preseault returns for her second season in net. Last season the Bradenton, Fla., native set the program record for wins (six) and posted three shutouts - all in succession. The return of Preseault marks the first time in program history that Louisiana returns its starting goalkeeper from the previous season.

For head coach Dave Poggi and his staff Saturday's contest will give them an opportunity to see the team in live, real-like match situations and evaluate which combinations work best.

"It's an opportunity for a lot of new people to play together for the first time against a common opponent, rather than themselves," Poggi said. "This match is going to set the bar in terms of things we will need to work on next week in preparation for the season opener."

"One of our main goals will be to figure out how we are going to score goals," Poggi said in reference to losing last season's leading scorer Stacy Smith. "This will be an opportunity to see which combinations work and give us the best opportunity to be successful."

Mississippi Valley State, a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, is in its first season of competition at the NCAA Division I level and first as a program. The Delta Devils are one of 12 new programs beginning play in 2003.

Following Saturday's exhibition match, the Cajuns will have six days to prepare for the 2003 regular season opener which takes place on Friday, Aug. 29, at 5 p.m., in Baton Rouge against Jackson State in the opening round of the LSU Tournament.

The 2003 regular season home opener is slated for Sunday, Sept. 7, in a 1 p.m. match against Conference USA-member Southern Mississippi.