NASHVILLE, Tenn. - In what was a disappointing 2012 campaign, the 2013 Lipscomb women’s soccer team will be “On a Mission.” The term will be used throughout the season to change the perception of the Lady Bisons.
“It is something that we decided as a staff with the senior players,” second year head coach Kevin O’Brien said. “It really means we are on a mission to change the identity of our program and the reputation.
“We are set out to change that, first by bringing in the right coaches and I think we have done that, then ultimately the right players. The ones that are sold out and committed to the cause, it is really exciting. We are going to change what Lipscomb soccer has been in the past to something that we think is exciting about the future.”
O’Brien and the Lady Bisons got a kick-start on the mission starting Wednesday with the first training session of the 2013 season. The training sessions will be used to assimilate the new players with the old and to mold the style of play.
“Preseason is about training the team in the way that we think we can be successful when the season comes around,” O’Brien said. “At the moment it is getting a lot of players to know the system of play, the style of play and most importantly, coming together as a group. Almost half of the squad is new to us this year.”
The Purple and Gold return eight starters from a year ago while bringing in a talented class of 14 freshmen.
The returners are led by junior Baylee Linnell who tied for the team high with four goals scored a year ago. The Nashville native also tallied two assists for a team leading 10 points. Linnell had 32 shots placing 15 on goal a year ago.
Molly Bray, a sophomore from Oklahoma City, Okla., co-led the squad with four goals. Fellow sophomore Caroline Chadwell led the squad with 49 shots placing 26 on goal. She placed two in the back of the net while adding an assist.
Junior Brittany Rupple and sophomore Alex Hickey also return after appearing in the goals scored column a year ago.
The Lady Bisons were tabbed to finish seventh in the Atlantic Sun Conference preseason poll, released Thursday. Two-time defending champions Florida Gulf Coast was picked as the preseason favorite, garnering five first-place votes and 95 total points.
To help Lipscomb achieve the goals set out by the coaching staff, the Lady Bisons will spend the weekend on a retreat to help with the cohesion of the squad.
“Ultimately, a retreat is an opportunity to get away from campus and come together as a group,” O’Brien said. “We will have a bonfire and get to know each other on a personal level. The reality is, the closer the players are off the field, it translates to better relationships on the field.”
Although the retreat will take the squad off campus, practice will still be held.
“We are going to train,” O’Brien said. “Even though it is a retreat, we can’t take time off. We will be working hard on the soccer field.”
The Lady Bisons open the regular season on Friday, Aug. 23 at Western Kentucky. Following three straight road contests the Purple and Gold makes its home debut on Monday, Sept. 2 against UT-Martin.