QUINCY -- First-hand experience tells Hayley Womack to expect the John Wood Community College women's soccer players to be nervous heading into Wednesday's season opener against St. Charles Community College.
"I was nervous for every game I played in my life," said Womack, the JWCC coach who played at Quincy High School and Iowa State University.
How the Trail Blazers handle their nerves will dictate how soon they find success.
Wednesday's game is the first in program history, adding to both the intrigue and the pressure of the moment. Add in the fact they want to improve on the effort put forth in last Friday's exhibition loss at Southeastern Community College in Burlington, Iowa, and a little anxiety is understandable.
"They were very nervous going into the scrimmage and that got in our way quite a bit," Womack said. "They are playing at the type of level a lot of them haven't seen before. With that said, I think they are more comfortable going into our first game."
But they'll still be nervous.
"That never goes away," Womack said. "It's how you transfer it and make sure the nerves are not taking over your playing the second time around."
Trust and camaraderie will help alleviate that as well.
Much like the men's program, which also opens Wednesday night in the second game of a doubleheader at Flinn Stadium beginning at 6 p.m., chemistry is a work in progress.
Womack has just 13 players on the roster, including two who were recruited from the women's basketball program once they arrived back on campus. So the molding process has been an ongoing battle.
"We have to learn how to play together," said Womack, who is relying on freshman forward Abbie Reis and freshman Sydney Stupavsky -- both QHS products -- to help set the tone. "We have a lot of girls who came from different styles of play and only a few have played together. The biggest thing I saw in our scrimmage was we just didn't know where each other were going to be.
"We didn't know does this girl want it played to her feet, does this girl want it played in front of her. There was a big disconnect between us."
The small roster limited what the Trail Blazers could do to create the on-field connection.
"It hasn't allowed us to sort through it," Womack said. "With more games to come, that will sort itself out."
It hasn't deterred the Trail Blazers from putting forth a quality effort.
"The biggest thing is they've learned to grit and grind things through," Womack said. "They have that kind of no quit type of attitude."
That should help set the standard as the program grows.
"That was a big part of the recruiting piece," Womack said. "They're excited to put their own mark on it."
Aug. 22 St. Charles Community College
Aug. 30 at Kaskaskia College
Sept. 5 at Illinois Central College
Sept. 8 at State Fair Community College
Sept. 15 at Southwestern Illinois College
Sept. 18 Heartland Community College
Sept. 21 Kaskaskia College
Sept. 26 at Southeastern Community College
Sept. 29 at Parkland Community College
Oct. 3 at Central Methodist JV
Oct. 6 Lewis & Clark Community College
Oct. 10 at Jefferson College
Oct. 12 at St. Louis Community College