NASHVILLE - The sun wasn’t the only thing that came out just in time for the Lipscomb men’s soccer kick-off against Nashville SC of the United Soccer League, more than 500 Nashville soccer fans filled the stands of the Lipscomb Soccer Complex Thursday to watch Nashville SC’s 2-0 victory over the Bisons.
“It was huge opportunity to play against Nashville and to catch them here on the end of their preseason, and to be the only college team they played is pretty big,” said head coach Charles Morrow, who, for the first time in program history, led the men’s soccer team to the NCAA Division 1 tournament earlier this fall. “In the first 10-15 minutes of the game we really struggled to get our foot on the ball and string passes together, and nerves definitely showed. But once we started to settle in we looked a lot better. I thought there were things we did well and there’s a lot to improve on.”
With 11 attempts on goal from Nashville SC and four from the Bisons, Nashville SC was able to clinch two goals in the 50th minute when Ian McGrath headed a ball into the back of the net from an assist from Martim Galvao, and another in the 75th minute when Galvao took a shot from an assist from former Lipscomb men’s soccer player Edwardo Reza.
As the Bisons gave Nashville SC a run for their money, they were challenged by a friendly face in the goal: former Lipscomb men’s soccer standout Micah Bledsoe (’17), who had three saves during the friendly.
After spending last season with USL Cup champions, Louisville City FC, Bledsoe signed a contract last month to continue his professional soccer career with Nashville SC.
“It was definitely surreal being back here today,” said Bledsoe. “I played four years at Lipscomb and then coming back and being on the other side of things was pretty fun to do and it was also fun to see a lot of the guys I played against in college. I think the game went well. Lipscomb put up a good effort and gave us some good challenges in different aspects of the game.”
“I think Ihaia Delaney had a outstanding game and for our lone guy up top to be able to hold up the ball and do the things that he did today, I think he played really well,” said Morrow. “I think Malik Shaheed also had a good game, and Logan Paynter is always Logan. There are still some things to come together in terms of attacking third, and although I’m not happy with the number of chances we created, I think that will get better as spring goes on as well.”
Losing a total of 10 seniors including Reza, Ivan Sakou and Ivan Alvardo, who played for Nashville SC today on trial for a roster spot this upcoming professional season, Morrow says there is a lot of opportunity for the young guys to step up during the spring season. And with another friendly against Louisville FC next week and a game against Belmont and Memphis on the horizon, the team will have ample opportunities to grow.
“We have another USL game against Louisville City next week who we beat last season and then they went on to win the USL,” said Morrow. “I think the overall challenge for the spring is to really stretch these guys and test their abilities as a team and individually.”
Lipscomb is coming off a historic season in which the 2017 Bisons achieved what no other Bison team in program history ever had – an ASUN Conference Championship and a berth into the NCAA Tournament. The Bisons wrapped the season with a record of 11-8-2 after falling to No. 15 Butler, 2-0, in the first round of the NCAAs.
Nashville SC will begin its inaugural season in the USL on Saturday, March 17 against Louisville City FC. The team has evolved from amateur side, Nashville FC, which was founded in 2013 and played in the NPSL. Nashville has been awarded an MLS franchise, which is due to begin play in the league in 2020. It is thought that the MLS franchise will evolve from the current USL team and will keep the same name, crest and colors.
The Bisons will head to Elizabethtown, Kentucky, to take on Louisville City FC on Wednesday, March 7. Their home portion of the spring schedule will resume on April 14, when Memphis visits the Music City.
Want to learn more about Lipscomb men’s soccer and their spring season? Visit www.lipscombsports.com/msoccer/.