Women’s soccer team eager to meet goals this season

The women’s soccer team officially kicks off the 2014 season today at 7 p.m. against McKendree University.

The Lions defeated Trevecca Nazarene 4-0 in an exhibition game Saturday.

After going 8-8-2 (5-4-2 GSC) last year, the Lions are eager to avenge last season’s average record. UNA finished fifth in the Gulf South Conference last season and is picked to finish fifth again this year in a preseason poll by the league’s head coaches.

“We had six games that were decided by one goal, so 8-8-2 could’ve really been totally different on the nicer side,” said coach Chris Walker. “We have high expectations this year, but we’ll know a lot more after the first weeks of the season of how good we’re going to be.”

The Lions finished last season with a four-game winning streak before losing to GSC foe West Alabama 2-0 in the season finale. The way the season ended leaves reason for optimism for UNA this year.

“We want to start off this year the way we finished last season,” Walker said. “It started to come together towards the end last year.”

UNA lost its top two scorers from last year, Jennifer Osmond and Abby Fannin, but is returning eight starters from last year’s squad. One of the returners, senior midfielder Abbey Hellum, said this team has the potential to be great.

“With the new girls and girls we have coming back, we know we can do better this year,” she said. “Our goal is no doubt to win the GSC and take it as far as we can.”

UNA won the GSC title three years ago, and senior midfielder Danielle Scanlon said there is no reason the team cannot do it this year.

“There’s two new teams (Spring Hill College and Mississippi College) that have come in to the GSC this year which will make the (GSC) tournament a lot harder but I think we can do it,” Scanlon said.

The Lions also brought in 10 new players this season to add some depth to the team. The players include freshman forward Beatriz Fernandes, who played on the national team in Portugal, and freshman goalkeeper Madeline Fancher, a transfer from the University of Tennessee.

“We’re deeper this year and I think we definitely click better as a team early on,” Hellum said.

Walker said the strength of the team is the depth they have especially at midfielder.

“The depth on this team makes practice very competitive,” he said. “We had a few freshman last year that have came a long way in the spring and developed a lot.”