In the wake of a season with only four wins, fans of the Murray State soccer team were relatively sparse at the Monday exhibition match against Bethel University. What those fans missed, however, was the beginning of a season fueled by new players who are set to surprise both fans and the OVC at large.
After just a minute and a half of play, freshman defender/midfielder Amber Hanson scored her first of four goals, with freshman defender/midfielder Julie Mooney, assisted by freshman defender Erin Smith, adding the fifth point to the 5-0 score that ended the Racers’ first match on Cutchin Field this season.
“Playing on Saturday I was a little disappointed with the attitude of the players, not that they weren’t wanting to try hard,” Head Coach Beth Acreman said. “I felt like they wanted to win the game, but when it came down to crunch time and things weren’t really going our way I needed to see a better reaction. “This game they really came out. I saw a big change in the attitude. I know this is a big win for them with a lot of goals scored, and something that they needed.”
The win did more for Murray State than boost its confidence, though, as Acreman has looked to exhibition matches as a way of gauging her team’s progress, and after Monday’s match, she’s pleased with how her team of new players is shaping up.
“This is just a way for me to evaluate players,” Acreman said. “Amber Hanson just scored four goals, and it’s really great for a freshman to come in and show like that. I was really pleased with some of the new players and the existing players. The returners really stepped up as well.”
However, Bethel may be one of the few to underestimate the impact of the 12 new faces on the Murray State roster.
Two pre-season polls listed Murray State as a force to be reckoned with, including an OVC pre-season poll which placed them at fourth, and a national poll which picked the Racers as No. 62 in the country.
“Well for me it really just comes down to playing,” Acreman said. “It’s nice to have that respect for the program, and I know they’ve looked at some of the new players we have coming in and predicted that they’ll help our program. So it’s a nice little accolade, but really it means nothing till games get started.”
In addition, Acreman’s eight returning players start the season healthy, a vast improvement over most of last season.
With their exhibition games behind them, the Racers will face their first three regular season competitors in the coming week with the intention of gaining experience for the fast approaching conference season.
“I’m expecting for Ball State to be an aggressive, high intensity game,” Acreman said. “This week we’re going to be training really hard to get the girls focused and ready for a big battle there.”
The Racers have their first home match of the regular season facing off against Troy University at 1 p.m. on Thursday at Cutchin Field.