MARTIN, Tenn. –The University of Tennessee at Martin soccer team will open defense of its 2011 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament title tonight (Thursday, Aug. 2) when it practices under the lights for the first time in school history. Practice gets under way at 9 p.m. at Skyhawk Soccer Field.
“Hopefully our players are excited about getting started,” UT Martin third-year head soccer coach Phil McNamara said. “The coaching staff is eager to get a first glimpse of this year’s team, and see if we can work off the cob webs.”
The 2012 Skyhawks feature eight new players and only two seniors. The seniors, Kendyl Wilson from Collierville and Midori Sera from San Francisco accounted for six goals, six assists and 18 total points in the run to the OVC title and the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
“Last year’s success has come and gone,” McNamara said. “This new group of players has to find its own identity and hopefully take another positive step in the development of our program.”
The Skyhawks were 14-7-2 overall in 2011 and 5-3-1 in the OVC.
McNamara says his team will have to look for a new formation that fits the group. “We have a large group, but a talented, group this season. We need to find a formation that our players are comfortable with and one that we can find long-term success with.”
In addition to finding a new formation, the Skyhawks must come together as a team quickly to deal with one of the most challenging schedules in school history. The Skyhawks will play two Southeastern Conference schools (Vanderbilt and Mississippi State) along with non-conference foes Purdue, Butler, and Kennesaw State.
The Skyhawks will play under the lights Friday, Aug. 10, when they host Western Kentucky in their only exhibition of the season. Action gets under way at 7 p.m. at Skyhawk Field.
“Next Friday night is very much part of the preseason,” McNamara said. “We are looking forward to finding out a little more information about our players.
“We are excited to get this season started and see what talent we have, especially with how tough our schedule is,” the coach said.