NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb men's soccer team took to the pitch on Wednesday for the first practice of fall camp. The squad got the day started with a fitness test early in the morning before holding the first of two training sessions immediately afterwards.
“Today was my last fitness test as a player here, so that was bittersweet,” senior midfielder Matt Kerridge said with a smile. “It is always good to get back out here after a long summer and we are just trying to get back in the routine of things.”
Coming off of a record-breaking 2014 season where the Bisons finished 12-4-1, setting the school mark for wins in a season, and captured their first-ever Atlantic Sun Conference regular season championship, the Purple and Gold will look to its seniors to keep the momentum rolling.
Those seniors will be depended upon to lead a youthful group of five juniors, seven sophomores and 10 freshmen. Lipscomb returns four of its five All-Conference selections from a season ago in seniors Kerridge, Reece Holcombe and sophomores Ivan Alvarado and Nate Davis.
To complement the group of experienced returnees, head coach Charles Morrow brought in a class that is expected to play early and often. Although the Bisons have just one training session under their belts, Kerridge liked what he saw from the newcomers Wednesday morning.
“It may be too early to say, but the transfers and freshmen we brought in have looked pretty good so far,” Kerridge said. “They are going to raise our level of play.
“We lost a big group of defenders last season, so we will need some guys to step up, but I don’t see that being a problem at all.”
Perhaps the biggest challenge facing the Bisons in 2015 is the task of replacing Luke Gearin, A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year and first team All-Region defender from 2014. One who will be relied upon heavily to shoulder the load defensively is redshirt sophomore Cameron Botes.
The 6-foot-5 defender from Charlotte, North Carolina was sidelined all of last season after suffering an injury during the preseason, but he feels he is ready to get back on the pitch and help the Bisons defend their A-Sun regular season crown.
“I am excited about this season coming off of my injury and I have been trying to keep my body in shape,” Botes said. “I am expecting a big year and I am going to do my best to make up for last season and help the team out as much as I can.”
This season Lipscomb returns two-thirds of its offensive production from a year ago, including five of the top six scoring leaders. Highlighting that group is Kerridge and Ivan Alvarado.
After not scoring a goal during his first two seasons on campus, Kerridge broke out in a big way last season. The Colorado native finished 2014 with seven goals and three assists. He finished third in the conference in goals and in total points with 17.
Kerridge not only earned a spot on the All-Conference first team, but he was also named to the second team All-Region by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America – just the fourth all-region member in program history.
Alvarado returns after putting up arguably the best freshman season in school history, where he scored four goals and assisted on eight others while being named the A-Sun Freshman of the Year and earning a spot on the first team All-Conference.
Also returning are seniors Anthony Cedano, Reece Holcombe and Josue Chavez. The trio combined to score nine goals and nine assists last season. Holcombe is a two-time member of the All-Conference second team and Cedano worked his way onto the Academic All-Conference squad.
The team will compete in its first of three exhibition games this Saturday when they travel to the Bluegrass State to take on No. 18 Louisville at 6:30 p.m. CT. Then on Wednesday Aug. 19 the Bisons will head back north, this time to Lexington to face Kentucky at 6 p.m. CT.
Lipscomb’s final preseason tuneup will give its fans their first glimpse of the Purple and Gold when Memphis visits the Music City for a 5 p.m. match on Sunday Aug. 23.
The Bisons will officially get the 2015 season underway on Friday Aug. 28 when they make the trek up Granny White to take on Belmont in the "Battle of the Boulevard". The match is scheduled to kickoff at 7 p.m.