NASHVILLE – The Lipscomb women’s soccer team took to the practice pitch this week as the Lady Bisons kicked off the 2017 fall campaign.
The first few days back training for the Purple and Gold have proven tough, but beneficial to the team.
“It’s been great,” Lipscomb women’s soccer head coach Kevin O’Brien said. “The girls came in with a wonderful base fitness, and then more importantly, a great attitude and willingness to work hard. It’s been tough.
“Obviously, when you do three sets of double days in a row, they’re starting to wear down a little bit. There’s a lot to learn. We’ve got a lot of young players that are playing at the moment, a few injuries as well. So, for us it’s really important that those young players are going to come in and understand what we are asking of them tactically so they can help the team move forward in the right direction.”
The Lady Bisons are coming off back-to-back 12-win seasons and appearances in the ASUN Championship, both program-best marks. With eight starters returning, Lipscomb is looking to pick right back up where they left off last season.
“It’s amazing to be back out on the pitch with everyone,” O’Brien said. “For me, it’s a crazy job in that it’s an eight month waiting game for a four month season. We get to train in the spring and play some games in the spring, but there’s nothing that replicates the fall with the excitement around every game.
“When you have an incredible group of players, ones that you care about as much off the field as you do on the field, it’s just a really rich experience to coach in this environment for this university. It’s really special.”
Lipscomb will take on a pair of exhibition matches to kick off the season with ETSU coming to visit on August 6, while the Lady Bisons will be trekking down the Boulevard to take on Belmont on August 11.
The team is dealing with its fair share of injuries currently, so the lineups trotted out in those two matches will be different than the one that will be seen during the season opener on August 18 against Western Kentucky.
“You’ll see a vastly different lineup this upcoming Sunday than what we played in the spring because we have some injuries at the moment,” O’Brien said. “Thankfully, the majority of those will be able to recover and be back on the field by the 18th for the opening weekend.
“For now, some young players are going to get an opportunity that, oftentimes, they wouldn’t normally get if some of these older players hadn’t picked up the injuries that they have,” O’Brien said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to see how far along they are and if they are going to be able to be contributors for the program moving into the regular season.”
Lipscomb faced ETSU during the preseason last year, losing 2-1 on a penalty kick. The Lady Bisons are hoping to get a better result this time out versus the Buccaneers.
“ETSU has a very good team laden with players that have played at a high level in Europe,” O’Brien said. “It will be a challenge. We lost to them during last year’s preseason, so we want to go out and put in a good performance and hopefully get a result.”