Niagara Gazette — LEWISTON — The sports climate in Niagara County changes seasons today, with Niagara University set to host its first sporting event of the 2013-14 calendar year.
NU's women's soccer team will get the honors when it plays Youngstown State in a non-league match at 7 p.m. at Niagara Field.
After compiling a 15-19-3 record over the last two seasons, head coach Peter Veltri enters his 15th season at the helm aiming to teach a young roster that has only two players in their athletic senior seasons.
"We're a very young team again this year," Veltri said. "We brought in a big (recruiting) class last year and a decent size this year, and we'll look to bring in a decent-sized class for '14. But the most important thing is that those classes are going to be here for a while."
This year presents a unique challenge and opportunity for NU. At the end of the regular season, each of the 11 teams in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference will travel to the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. to take part in an expanded conference tournament — something that happens every four years in an attempt to ensure each MAAC student-athlete gets to experience the trip once.
In normal years, the tournament is held at a MAAC campus and only the top four teams are invited.
Veltri, who led the Purple Eagles to their first and only MAAC championship in 2006, said his goal is to help his team peak at the end of the season.
"When you come to a year like this year, it's not about your record," he said. "It's about making sure you're peaking at the right time.
"I've been to (Florida) three times, and I've seen how once you get there, rankings mean nothing. It's about the team that's playing the best at that time, so our goal is to make sure we continue to improve from today until we're down there. The fact that we're young and growing, it's probably a great year for that."