“We will be young, and a little experienced here and there,” said Jon Ireland, who is in his third year as head coach of the Lady Bisons. “This is the most talented group we have had. We have the ability to do some really good things.”
The Lady Bisons are facing Austin Peay from the Ohio Valley Conference at 7 at the Lipscomb Soccer Complex. Not only is this the opener for women’s soccer, but it is also the first official athletic event of the 2009-10 season. It is also the first regular season game for Austin Peay.
“We have had a very difficult preseason,” said Ireland. “We have spent so much time on a variety of things ranging from set pieces to walk throughs.
“This will be the first time we will get tested. The biggest key is how we will do under pressure. We have tried to put our players through the most pressure that we could during practice, but it is hard to replicate a game.”
In the net Ireland plans to split time between freshmen Erin Zerio and Ally Marler. Each will play one half.
Fellow freshmen Kameron Stilwell and Katie Wood will start on defense, Martika Powe in the middle and Emily Longden at a forward spot.
The Lady Bisons have spent long hours on the field during preseason drills, sometimes practicing six-to-eight hours each day. But despite the long hours of work they have also found time to make two visits to Lakeshore Wedgewood Retirement Center.
“That has been a great experience for us,” said Ireland. “We are so focused on soccer, soccer, soccer. This takes their minds away from that and puts things in perspective. We realize how lucky we are and how much we take for granted.”
The Lady Bisons go room-to-room and visit the residents. In the two visits friendships have already formed between some players and residents.
“It has been a neat experience,” said Ireland. “We plan to continue to do that throughout the year.
“It helps the players realize the focus is not just on us. It is also about other people. Even though we haven’t had a lot of extra time we felt like it was important for them to be there. Our season is going to come down to our teamwork.”
Ireland admits that Austin Peay will be a tough challenge for his team.
“They always pass the ball well,” said Ireland. “They are a possession-oriented team. They like to knock it around. They will come in expecting to beat us.”