Ed Heberling readily admits there's some pressure for the USC Beaufort women's soccer team to be "a little more in line with the rest of Sand Shark athletics."
But the Sand Sharks' second-year coach said that the pressure to improve on a tough inaugural season in which USCB went 1-15 and was outscored 91-5 doesn't come from the athletic department. It comes from him.
"I took this job and said it would take me three years (to be competitive)," Heberling said. "Sure, we got a little behind, but it's me putting the pressure on myself."
The Sand Sharks open their second season tonight, hosting Brenau University at 5 p.m. at Fin Land Field on the USCB campus.
Heberling wasn't assigned an easy task last season. Six months after his hiring, USCB had a team on the field. And with little experience together, the Sand Sharks endured a rough season against a tough schedule for any NAIA team, let alone a first-year program.
Once the season ended, Heberling refocused on improving the team.
"We started to reevaluate last spring," Heberling said. "We started right away, playing spring soccer. We really started working together, doing the small things to help make us better, to help us see the big picture."
Then he brought in the reinforcements -- an 18-player signing class.
"We have a little more talent, a little more soccer IQ," Heberling said. "We will be a little more competitive this year."
Though he says he's "excited about the whole class," Heberling singled out a couple of newcomers to watch.
Midfielder Sam Satterlee, a freshman out of Clover High School is someone Heberling says will do a little of everything.
"You may not see her name, but she's one who will solidify the middle and help us control the game."
He says Pascale Rocca, a freshman from Cardinal Newman, is a "great communicator, like another coach out on the field. She lets the players know what's going on."
And Heberling says don't discount the returning veterans just because USCB struggled last season.
Sophomore Chelsie Mummert of Summerville, who Heberling calls the team's best all-around player, will be back in her natural position this season -- in goal.
"Knowing she's back there with her athleticism will allow us to do some more things and take some more chances," Heberling said.
And Heberling praised senior defender Kathleen Kent.
"She gives us composure on the back line and is a huge part of where we're at right now."