NASHVILLE – The Lipscomb men’s soccer team took to the pitch this week and opened fall camp in preparation of defending its ASUN Conference crown from a season ago.
After spending much of Tuesday focusing on their fitness and team meetings, the Bisons kicked off practice Wednesday with sessions in the morning and afternoon at Cofer’s Chapel Soccer Complex.
“It’s always exciting to get back out here,” Lipscomb head coach Charles Morrow said. “Last year set a new standard for these guys and opened their eyes to what they can do. I think the approach to this season has been fantastic thus far.”
Lipscomb is coming off its first ASUN Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance in program history. Despite a number of key departures from last year’s squad, Morrow’s confidence is beaming with 18 returnees and 11 newcomers on the fall roster.
“We’ve got a really strong leadership core and we want to continue building that with the new guys coming in,” Morrow said. “There are plenty of guys who were around last season that we feel like will step in and help out with some of that lost production.
“Whether it looks individual or not on the score sheet, we are based on a team outlook and how we play. We feel like we will be able to slide players over and that production will be filled.”
The Bisons return three of their top five goal scorers from 2017, including forward Logan Paynter. The senior striker finished second in the league last season with nine goals and 23 points on his way to earning a third consecutive ASUN First Team selection.
The Bradenton, Florida native and team captain was ready to get his final fall camp in the Purple and Gold rolling.
“It’s a weird feeling, I don’t feel like this is my fifth fall camp, but it’s great to be back,” Paynter said. “In the summer we have to spend time away from one another, so it’s fun to be back and get going.”
Also back in the fray are 2017 ASUN All-Freshman selections Ben Locke and Ihaia Delaney.
Senior Chris Zappia will man the nets one final season after leading the conference a year ago with 11 victories and finishing second with 81 saves. The goalkeeper registered three clean sheets en route to a 1.60 goals against average.
Morrow enters his 14th year at the helm of the program and will open the season with 102 career wins in Nashville. He put together a tough 2018 slate that will challenge his squad from start as seven of their opponents ranked inside the RPI top-100 last season.
The Bisons get to the pitch for their first of three preseason matches this Saturday at Mercer before coming home to host Lindsey Wilson on Tuesday, August 14 at the Lipscomb Soccer Complex. They will open the regular season Friday, August 24 when rival Belmont visits at 7 p.m.