Soccer team chases OVC championship

The Racers are preparing to kick off the end of the spring season against OVC rival UT Martin in what will be a fierce seven vs. seven tournament in Tennessee.

This bracket-style tournament is the final event for the team this season, and differs from traditional soccer because the goals are placed on the widths of the field instead of the length. Head Coach Beth Acreman said this style means more goal shots taken and a strenuous challenge for the Racers.

Alongside the Skyhawks, the Racers will be playing against opponents such as Christian Brothers, Bethel and Trevecca Nazarene University in the tournament.

This is the last event the team can train. Once the tournament is over, the Racers will begin speed, agility and fitness training to prepare for the fall.

“This tournament will be a good gauge to see how they are as a group,”Acreman said. “They’ve trained really hard all the way through. It’s a nice way to finish off with a tournament so every player can get good minutes and enjoy the environment of competition.”

Coming off a 0-0 draw against Middle Tennessee State, the team is traveling outside of Murray for the first time this year, having played both Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky at Cutchin field.

Acreman said this tournament is a good way to prepare for the fall season.

“We’ve already played the majority of our competition and the girls are doing very well,” Head Coach Beth Acreman said. “This is our last seven vs. seven. I want to see the girls work on their possession this spring and as a group become mentally ready for next fall.”

Players like freshman midfielder/forward Julie Mooney and junior defender Janelle Cunningham are powerful offensive assets for the team. In their spring game against Western Kentucky, the duo each earned a goal by halftime, putting the Racers up at a 2-1 victory.

“Janelle is one of our leaders,” Acreman said. “She has just been named one of our captains so she needs to set the team morale high and to be more competitive. We have to play four games and the team needs to stay consistent to get through the semis. She’s really confident right now. She’s got some fantastic goals this spring.”

However, the Skyhawks pose a challenge in the seven vs. seven style, already winning a tournament championship and reaching the seven vs. seven finals in March against opponents Austin Peay and Western Kentucky.

In the team’s last match against UT Martin in September, the score was left at a 2-2 tie when the Racers came back in the final ten minutes with goals by sophomore midfielder Jillian Russell and sophomore forward/midfielder Shauna Wicker.

On the defensive side, freshman goalkeeper Yi Du has already left an early impression with her 6-foot-1 frame and a start in 17 games with 63 total saves. Her most notable performance was her eight saves against Morehead State in November.

“Yi has been the one in the goal the most out of them all for the spring,” Acreman said. “For her, she’s just taking her time to figure out American soccer and she’s been more confident. Going into this small side, she’ll be making more saves and helping us win games.”

The tournament will begin April 21 in Murfreesboro, Tenn.