Head coach Tom Brown returns 16 letter winners including all 11 starters from last year's team that came within a penalty kick shoot-out of reaching the Southland post-season tournament finals.
The group of returning players includes two ladies who rank among the top five goal scorers in Sam Houston soccer history.
Junior Tricia Mallory has scored 19 goals in two seasons as a Bearkat to rank second in career goals at SHSU. Senior Kirby Zak ranks fifth in all-time Kat annals with 17 career tallies. Both have earned All-Southland Conference honors each of their seasons at Sam Houston.
"Kirby is good at exploiting our opponent's weaknesses, so we like to move her around," Brown said. "Tricia is a talented finisher and has led our attack the past two seasons. We're looking for both to have good seasons up front."
Zak is one of seven seniors Brown expects to provide outstanding leadership and experience this season.
Returning in a back line that helped Sam Houston post seven shutouts during the 2011 drive to the Southland tournament semifinals are seniors Kayla Anderson, Amanda Biega and Hailey Shelpuk. In the midfield, Paige Rodriguez and Hillary Ackerman are back. Michele McCullough gives the Kats needed experience in goal.
"Our seven seniors know what it takes to be successful in the Southland Conference," Brown said.
Other returning players include juniors Cat Abitua, Lindsey Posner, Emily Edenstrom and sophomores Madison Bible, Ashley Fluty, Jessica Toms, Megan Manis, Ashlyn Davis and Kaitlyn Stowe.
Brown is excited about an outstanding group of new freshmen, several of whom could be in the mix for playing time. Top newcomers include goalkeeper Kylie Hambleton; defenders Becca Cheiffetz, Emma Brandon, Katie Bunch and Colby Glover; midflielder Mariah Titus and Ashley Alonzo; forwards Shelby McDaniel, Constance Semien and Katie Ferrara.
Sam Houston opens the 2012 season with three games in Huntsville, playing host to Prairie View A&M Friday August 17; Texas State Sunday August 19 and North Texas Friday August 24.