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Starting slots up for grabs as soccer team prepares for exhibition match

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- With fall camp under way, first year Tennessee Tech soccer coach Becky Fletcher is getting acquainted with her new team. Working with a roster that features seven true freshmen, Fletcher has yet to award starting positions.

The Golden Eagles travel to Jefferson City, Tenn., on Tuesday to face Division II Carson-Newman in an exhibition match, and Fletcher expects to put more of the pieces together after she sees how her players perform on the field.
Seeing her players in action will give her a better idea of what player combinations and substitution patterns will be effective. It will also provide a high level of competition, as Carson-Newman has enjoyed recent success at the Division II level.

"Carson-Newman is an excellent team," Fletcher said. "They usually have a little international flavor, and they're very well coached. They're Division II, but they're better than quite a few Division I teams, so I think it's going to be a very good measuring stick."

The biggest position battle that's taking place right now is at goalkeeper, where freshmen Lauren Schaedig and Kaitlyn Thacker are competing for the spot.

"It's going to be a good battle in goal," Fletcher said. "They work great, they compete, and they're friends."

But keeper isn't the only position that's up for grabs. Fletcher has made it clear that every spot has to be earned, and anybody can take it.

"The competition has been really good between the girls," Fletcher said. "I want them to fight every day, knowing that the opportunity is there to start."

Fletcher has enjoyed some pleasant surprises with the large freshman class, one of those being Denver native Lindsey Reed.

"Lindsey Reed can play anywhere," Fletcher said. "She's good, she's a real versatile kid."

One thing that Fletcher and assistant coach Chris Walker are hoping to find is a little more offense.

"We still need to find that consistent goal scorer," Fletcher said. "But everybody in the country is looking for that."

The Golden Eagles were picked to finish last among the nine teams in the Ohio Valley Conference, but that is something that the coaching staff wants to use to the teams advantage.

"I think we can surprise everyone, and turn out better than that," senior defender Katie Hoover said. "The new coaches are pushing us a lot harder than last year, and because we're pushed harder, I think we're going to be a lot tougher during games."

Fletcher is looking forward to erasing some of the recent history of the program, and head in a new direction.

"We're a new team, whole new mentality, new approach to the game. With the way they're working, and the effort they've put in and the attitude they have, I think the soccer part of it is really going to take care of itself," she said

Following their exhibition match at C-N, the Golden Eagles open the regular season on Saturday (Aug. 23) at Georgia State University.