Nicholas Dolan || Contributing Writer
The beginning of the regular season means a fresh start for all teams. The Murray State soccer team’s fresh start begins Friday, Aug. 24, against Arkansas State at Cutchin Field.
The Racers look to bounce back from a 7-9-3 record in 2011. Murray State will open the season with a roster of 10 freshmen, one transfer and 14 returning players, including sophomore midfielder Julie Mooney who received All-OVC honors in 2011.
Fifth-year senior and team captain Jenelle Cunningham is optimistic for the beginning of the regular season after a disappointing preseason where the Racers fell to Illinois State 0-6 and Middle Tennesse 0-3.
“We learned a lot coming out of preseason games,” Cunningham said. “We didn’t get the results we wanted, but we found out what we need to work on and saw our strengths too.”
The Racers continue to improve as the regular season approaches and are working on combining offensive and defensive plays.
“We focused on defense in the two preseason games,” Cunningham said. “We just need to put it all together and put the ball in the back of the net.”
The Racers’ first scheduled game against Louisiana Tech was cancelled due to rain. The next game will be the home opener against the Red Wolves of Arkansas State today at 3 p.m.
The Red Wolves opened their season with a 6-0 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff and were picked to finish seventh in the Sun Belt Conference Preseason Coach’s Poll.
Head coach Beth Acreman will lead the Racers for the seventh season and has high hopes for her team.
“Our goal is to win the (OVC) regular season and tournament,” Acreman said.
She said Murray State has a hard schedule in both out-of-conference and OVC matches.
“We started with a tough schedule purposely to get our young players used to the college game,” Acreman said. “We have a tough out-of-conference and conference schedule. We put teams in (non-conference schedule) that will help emulate the competition we’ll see in conference play.”
Although the road ahead of Murray State is tough, the team looks to capitalize on their 10 home games.
“We have a lot of home games this year,” Cunningham said. “Hopefully this will instill a sense of pride in our team and help us get the results we want.”
The Racers are selected to finish in a tie for fifth in the 2012 Ohio Valley Conference Preseason Poll voted on by OVC head coaches and sports information directors.
In her final season as a Racer, Cunningham wants to prove the poll wrong and bring home an OVC tournament title.
“I wanted to leave Murray State with four rings, but I guess three isn’t bad,” Cunnigham said with a smile.