Golden Eagles travel to Athens to face Tennessee Wesleyan
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — With just a little over a week left until the regular season begins, the Tennessee Tech soccer team will continue their preseason regimen with an exhibition match against Tennessee Wesleyan.
The match will pit Tech against the Bobcats in a Saturday match at 2 p.m. CT in Athens, Tenn. The team will look to test itself before next Friday's season home opener against East Tennessee. The Golden Eagles will rely on several returning players to improve upon last season's 5-13-1 record.
The veteran-laden team returns eight seniors and five juniors to the mix this season. This will mark head coach Daniel Brizard's third year with the team, but more importantly the third year with the returning upper classmen. That experience and knowledge of each other will be key in putting up victories this season.
Another key to a successful season will be the incoming freshman, who will compete for starting positions and key minutes right out of the gate.
"I think the newcomers have added quite nicely to the depth and strength of our team," said Brizard. "We're hoping they all get a bit of playing time and some experience, especially in the beginning of the season. We have two goal keepers, Allison Barlow and Jordan Brown, who are battling it out for the spot. We have quality there and it's like a ray of sunshine on a spot we haven't had in the past. "
But it won't just be the keepers that have a chance to leave a mark on the team this season. Three other youngsters will look to make an impact as well.
"Between Taylor Sutton, Taylor Blazei, and Mackenzie Miller we're looking for them to help out. Whether it's a starting role or coming off the bench and getting us some minutes, I think they're all going to play a role and get some minutes. How much will depend on them and what they can bring. I think it's nice that we have depth now and we have people competing. It's picked up the level of our returners with Blazei helping us up top and kind of giving us a good rotation. Sutton in the middle will definitely add some depth where we needed it. We want our central mid-fielders to work a whole lot which will require good rests and good rotations to keep them fresh throughout the whole year. Mackenzie on the flanks will also add some depth and hopefully some quality minutes out there."
As for Saturday's matchup against Tennessee Wesleyan, Brizard knows that they can't look past the matchup to the beginning of the season. He and assistant coaches Rachel Yepez and Corey Boyd are looking to finish the preseason strong with a victory over the Bulldogs, who finished 9-8-2 last season while placing second in the Appalachian Athletic Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Tech is also looking to emerge with a better idea of what the team will look like going into the season.
"We are going to try to work out the few kinks that we have and try to work into everybody's role as far as what we'll start with and which rotations we'll use. We'll try to play everyone we can, given the opportunity. We are obviously working towards next Friday and solidifying our lineup and substitution rotation."
"I think Saturday is important for us. It's the first competition we've had outside of ourselves, so we'll see how we react and hopefully have a bit of fun. We always want to win. It doesn't matter if it's an exhibition or a practice match. The girls want to be competitive. That's why you play sports. If we can learn some more about the team, solidify some roles, and win I think that that would be a fantastic weekend."