BENNINGTON >> Training camp for the Southern Vermont College women's soccer team began on Friday with a bang as the team competed in a inter-squad scrimmage on their first day of practice.
Watching from the sidelines was head coach Michael Zauzig, who intensely evaluated his team as the sun set behind the Mountaineer Athletic Center.
"You don't really know what to expect on the first day of camp," said the six year coach. "You're trying to evaluate so many things at once. From their fitness levels to their decision making on the field and how they all mesh with another. It's a lot evaluating for me as a coach to start the season off."
The Mountaineers come into the 2016 season with high expectations after their success last year.
In 2015, the Mountaineers tied a program record with 11 wins and hosted their first-ever New Collegiate Conference playoff game.
SVC ended up advancing to the conference semifinals where they lost to Elms.
"There is definitely excitement throughout the team of what we can accomplish this season after the success we had last year," Zauzig said. "We have consistently gotten better every year. There is still more work to be done, but we're definitely on the right track."
For now the work that the Mountaineers will focus on to begin training camp will be improving their all-around fitness levels and working on speed of play and decision making Zauzig said.
"Right now our top priority is getting in the best shape possible for the start of the regular season," Zauzig said. "From there, we will work on getting better at playing as team and on our communication skills."
Since most of the girls who play on the team also play on a club team or play in some sort of league during the summer, Zauzig feels that the team will be progress quicker to start the season.
Also with many girls on the team being two-sport athletes at SVC, Zauzig believes that will also most of the girls get in shape quicker since they're all-around athletes.
One challenge, though, SVC will face to start the season is the loss of senior captain Lauren Nesshoever.
Nesshoever had surgery over the summer on a torn labrum in her right shoulder that she sustained when she played lacrosse in the spring and will miss the whole 2016 season.
"It's tough losing a player like Lauren," Zauzig said. "She's a captain. She has been a key player for us the past few years. It's tough to replace a player like that, so we will see during training which girls on the team can step up and fill her role."
Nesshoever though will still be a part of the team as one of their leaders and will help continue to usher the family-like mentality throughout the team that Zauzig said is a big thing he wants to promote during training camp.
"We want to bring a big sense of cohesion into our team," Zauzig said. "We're looking to build a family like atmosphere with our returners and our players to the team throughout camp because a team together is better then a team apart."