Lipscomb Bisons soccer coach Charles Morrow will get a look at his team under game conditions Friday night in an exhibition with Christian Brothers.
Even he might need a scorecard.
The Bisons coaching staff is taking a long look at 24 new players. Several of them will get long looks as Morrow fine tunes his roster. Game time is at 6 at the Lipscomb Soccer Complex.
The regular season begins Aug. 29 when the Bisons travel to Boiling Springs, N.C., for the Soccer for a Cure Classic Tournament at Gardner-Webb. The Bisons will play Gardner-Webb Friday at 4:30 and Winthrop Sunday at 11 a.m.
“What we want to see are the guys we feel comfortable with going at game speed for a period of time,” Morrow said. “Then we also want to see some of our incoming freshmen in a game-type situation to see how they perform. We want to verify what we think we already know about the younger guys.
“I would expect that our younger guys would play more in this game than our returners. But a lot of that is dependent on how well each group performs. We have some newcomers with the ability to step right in and help us out, but we still have a long way to go.”
There are interesting battles are taking place between the goals posts, on the forward line and in the back on defense.
At the forward spot Miguel DaSilva, a member of the Atlantic Sun All-Conference Second Team and A-Sun All-Freshman Team, returns after setting single season records as a freshman for goals scored (10) and points (20). Freshmen Garrett Pettis, Andrew Chamberlain and Tony Garibaldi are also seeking playing time.
“That is probably the most promising area,” said Morrow. “We knew Garrett was going to be good. Andrew has a lot of potential. Evan McGee is another player who we think can play there.
Andrew and Evan will take a little more time. And then there is Tony Garibaldi who was a late pickup we signed right before preseason practice started. Tony probably has the most raw ability and potential. He has always been the best player on any team he has been on. Once we get his work ethic right and his fitness right he is going to score a lot of goals.”
A trio of talented freshmen is battling for the goalkeeper position. Morrow is looking strongly at either Patrick Walsh, 6-foot-1 or Brent McGee, 6-3. But he is not ruling out Joey DaRosa, who stands 5-10.
“Patrick and Brent have been the most dominant early on,” Morrow said. “Joey has done some good things. He is a very good goalkeeper in his own right.
“Patrick is very good with his feet. He directs fairly well from the back. Brent is more of a physical presence and is a little bit more dominant on balls that crossing in or dumped in over the top.”
Defensively the Bisons are experienced with Garrett McLaughlin, Kezi Lara and T.J. Williams returning.
“That is a fairly solid defensive core,” Morrow said. “Garrett is a hard player. Defensively, he is so tough. He can spray the ball around the field. He is a very smart player.”
But there are also freshmen working hard for playing time on the back line like Josh Lind, a 6-4, 180-pounder
“Josh is a big kid who will more than likely play on the left side for us,” Morrow said. “We knew he was good, but he has really been coming into his own the last two or three days.
“From an athletic standpoint he does a good job. Not only is he that big, but he plays that big. He is physical. He will tackle hard and use his body well. He can really play too. He can serve a good ball in and passes the ball well.”
Two other possibilities are Alex Shaw and Ethan Summers.
“Alex can play outside on the right,” Morrow said. “Ethan can play on the left or right. They have both been doing a good job.
“We are definitely going to play four in the back. Between those six we should be able to find what we need.”
McLaughlin, Lara and Williams could also find themselves in the midfield as an option. They would join Angel Chairez who is working out despite being hobbled on one leg.
“One we get Angel healthy he will be great,” Morrow said. “Even playing on one-and-half legs we are totally different as a team with Angel.
“Angel is smart and technical. He is strong on the ball. He knows where the ball needs to go. He can keep possession of the ball and spray the ball around the field. That is huge. There is a lot that he brings that makes him dangerous.”
The Bisons open the regular season Aug. 29 at Gardner-Webb, the first of five straight road games.