NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In the heat of the Deep South, Lipscomb’s women’s soccer team concluded its first week of preseason camp Friday, ending a week of practice, meetings and fitness testing.
The Lady Bisons will return nine starters from the 2010 squad, including starting keeper Erin Zerio and leading goal scorer Andie Thornton. A strong recruiting class of ten newcomers, including Western Michigan transfer Alex Wagner, complements 12 returning letter winners.
Coach Jon Ireland’s main focus during camp has been to get a team that scored a mere 10 goals during the 2010 campaign to become a better finishing offense. Thornton, along with seniors Danielle Bethke and Kirsten Heikkenen, will be counted on to develop a better finishing game while acclimating a host of newcomers to the offense.
The defense will again be anchored by junior netminder Zerio. The Novi, Mich., native continued her assault on the school record books in 2010, turning in numbers that placed her third on the all-time single-season list in shutouts (three) and goals against average (1.82).
Zerio enters her junior season second all-time in minutes by a keeper (2,504) and will pass Bethany Copeland for fourth on the all-time career saves list if she makes 15 stops in 2011.
She will have an experienced back line to help her in 2011. Thornton, fellow juniors Katie Wood and Kameron Stilwell and sophomore Kelsey Reiman all return for the Lady Bisons in 2011, making a veteran backline one of the biggest strengths for Lipscomb heading into the campaign.
The Lady Bisons were picked to finish ninth in the Atlantic Sun in the preseason coaches’ poll, finishing ahead of USC Upstate with 17 points. With six first place votes and 96 points overall, Florida Gulf Coast was picked to repeat as regular season champions. The Lady Eagles were ineligible for postseason play last season.
The Lady Bisons will play Faulkner in an exhibition match Wednesday at 5 p.m. Lipscomb will kick off the regular season Friday, Aug. 19, at 5 p.m. against Arkansas State.