Players shift focus toward new season

Last weekend marked the final event of the spring season for the soccer team.

Fighting through three games against Trevecca Nazarene University, Christian Brothers University and Bethel at UT-Martin, the winning streak that put the Racers in the semifinals came to a halt when they faced a 2-1 loss to Northern Alabama.

Defender Erin Smith, one of seven freshmen, strikes the ball during a game against  UT-Martin. || File photo

Defender Erin Smith, one of seven freshmen, strikes the ball during a game against UT-Martin. || File photo

The competition was one Head Coach Beth Acreman said would gauge the progress the team has made over the season, as well as show what they need to focus on improving.

“It was just kind of a tournament where we wanted to play players and see how we did,” Acreman said. “It was our last event, so I would say maybe if we had slightly better possession, it could have helped us and finished our game better.”

Acreman said the Racers have improved all around, and it helped them in the first round of the tournament. “We scored some good goals and passed the ball well,” she said. “And we defended well, too.”

With the tournament over, the Racers will now train the rest of spring and summer for the fall season. Acreman said her main focus is to mature younger players into more experienced athletes and to better prepare them mentally.

“We have a lot of young players, so this tournament gave us a chance to put them in competitive situations,” she said. “So I would say the more experience these players get will help. We’re also going to focus on each player’s skills as an individual to prepare for next fall.”

The season’s close means the loss of three seniors. The event marked the final time on the field for senior defender Maja Nordahl, midfielder Sophie Hargreaves and defender/midfielder Ashley Green.

Hargreaves’ retirement will hit hard offensively. The midfielder led the Racers with six goals and three assists and was named the All-OVC First Team and Offensive Player of the Week in 2010.

Overall, the 2011-12 year was a time of growth and development, Acreman said, and she hopes the experiences and playing time will pay off next season.

Sophomore midfielder Jillian Russell shows off her speed as she moves the ball down the field. || File photo

Sophomore midfielder Jillian Russell shows off her speed as she moves the ball down the field. || File photo

“We placed fourth in the fall, which isn’t something to be satisfied with,” she said. “Next season I want to win the conference. We used this spring time as a time to get fitter and stronger and obviously get the experience of playing these younger players. I would say it’s been successful this season in terms of getting young, new players that will help us in the future.”