NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Opening weekend has arrived again for the Lipscomb women’s soccer team, which will host Arkansas State (Friday) and Central Arkansas (Sunday) in two non-conference matches to kick off the season.
The matches will be played on the Lipscomb training field behind Cofer’s Chapel Church due to a lighting upgrade to the Lipscomb University Soccer Complex. Friday’s match will begin at 5:00 p.m., while Sunday’s tilt will go off at 1:00 p.m. Admission is free to the public, and a limited amount of concessions will be available.
The Lady Bisons look to improve upon their 4-14 mark of a year ago; nine starters and 11 letterwinners return and will be supplemented by a host of talented freshmen that Jon Ireland’s coaching staff has brought aboard for the 2011 campaign.
The Red Wolves went 7-11-1 in 2010 and return their top four scorers, along with keeper Megan Stoltzfus, who split time in the net last season. Yesterday, the Red Wolves were picked to finish 10th in the Sun Belt Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
Last season, the Red Wolves defeated Lipscomb, 2-0, on Sept. 3 in Jonesboro. Erin Zerio made 10 saves and Kirsten Heikkinen put three shots on goal, but departed keeper Susan Brown made eight saves in shutting out the Lady Bisons.
If she reaches double figures in saves against Arkansas State this time around, Zerio will be within striking distance of passing Bethany Copeland for fourth on the all-time saves list in the next contest.
Sunday, the Bears of Central Arkansas will come to town for a 1 p.m. match. Lipscomb defeated the foes from Conway, Ark., in 2010 by a score of 1-0. Andie Thornton’s 50th-minute goal proved to be the deciding blow, while Erin Zerio earned the shut-out, helped by a defense that didn’t allow a shot on goal.
Last season, Central Arkansas went 6-8-4, failing to make to make the Southland Conference tournament. Starting keeper Kelsey Gochnauer (seven shutouts) returns, as do five of the Bears top six scorers from 2010.
Last week, the Bears were picked to finish ninth in the Southland in the preseason coaches poll.
The Lady Bisons were picked ninth in the Atlantic Sun coaches poll last week. Florida Gulf Coast was picked to be champions by a vote of the league’s coaches.
Following this weekend, the Lady Bisons will host Nicholls State Friday, Aug. 26, before heading to Tennessee Martin for their first road match of 2011 Sunday, Aug. 28.