The Lady Bisons unveiled a 3-4-3 attack, inspired by the University of North Carolina, and scored two second half goals Friday night in a 2-1 win over Tennessee-Chattanooga from the Southern Conference.
“We won the game because of our pressure,” Lady Bisons coach Jon Ireland said.
It was the season opener for both teams at the Lipscomb Soccer Complex.
Down by one goal at the end of the first half, and held to only four shots on goal, Ireland stressed the need for his players to go all out in the second half.
“The last part of the first half I thought we kind of lost our sense of direction,” Ireland said. “And when Chattanooga got the goal we kind of hung in there, but we didn’t play with much purpose.
“I knew if we could get to halftime and only be down by one goal we had a chance to regroup. I told them the first 10 minutes of the first half would set the tone.“
The second half effort was even more impressive considering that Ireland only has a couple of healthy players to use as substitutes at this stage of the season.
“For those girls to be able to fight that long and play high pressure showed that our fitness was very good,” Ireland said. “Overall we played a high pressure system for a good part of the game.
“Our girls ran and ran and ran. They put Chattanooga under so much pressure in the second half. There were a lot of times in the second half where we put them under so much pressure all they could do was kick it out of bounds or hit it right to us. “
The Lady Bisons were credited with 10 shots in the second half. Seven of them were shots on goal.
“We were like a swarm in the second half,” Ireland said. “It gave us so many more opportunities.”
Hunter Summers, playing in her first collegiate game, was credited with the first goal for the Lady Bisons on a deflection in front of the Chattanooga goal at the 63:18 mark. Tatjana Shirley, also making her collegiate debut, was credited with the assist.
“Tatjana crossed it and I just got in front of a Chattanooga player,” Hunter said. “I may have slightly hit it, but when I got in the other girl’s way she couldn’t see what she was doing and she kicked it in the goal.”
Hunter admitted that she was nervous and excited to play her first college game.
“It was a lot more physical and a lot faster than high school,” Hunter said. “But I knew what was coming and I was prepared for it.” Meghan McGuire scored what proved to be the game-winning goal at 65:48.
Erin Zerio was in goal for the Lady Bisons. She made six saves with three in each half.
One of the primary concerns for the Lady Bisons was forward Donna-Kay Henry, one of the top two goals scorers in the Southern Conference last season. Becca Smith, the top scorer in the conference in 2009 as a freshman, saw limited action.
“Our defenders stepped up and worked hard,” Zerio said. “With our new system we shut them down pretty well. We knew we had to be strong and double-team D.K. “
Kelly Downs scored the opening goal of the game for Chattanooga taking advantage of a rebound off of a corner kick at 19:08.
The Lady Bisons opened the 2009 season with a 1-0 win over Austin Peay. They also tied Middle Tennessee State 0-0 in a season opener in 2005.
The Lady Bisons return to action Monday night at 7 when they travel to Clarksville to face Austin Peay.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.