Soccer wraps up preseason, prepares for first games

UNA sophomore midfielder Abbey Hellem fights Auburn Montgomery’s Dagmar Gunnarsdottir for possession of the ball during the Lions’ Aug. 22 exhibition game.

UNA finished their last week of preseason tune-ups with two exhibition matches at home including a match against Auburn University-Montgomery.

The Lions played AUM on Aug. 22 before playing a club team from Huntsville Aug. 24.

In the exhibition against AUM, the Lions played their starting 11 for large chunks of each half.  UNA continued to work on flowing from one tactical moment to another.  Certain players moved forward or back depending on the need or recognized opportunity.  

The Lions also continued working on their possession-style offense, knocking the ball around quickly and often.  The possession was there for UNA, though at times the final pass in the attacking third was a bit lacking, said to Head Soccer Coach Graham Winkworth.

“We’re doing well defending and winning the ball back,” Winkworth said.  “We need to do a little better in our passes.”

The goalkeeper position for the Lions is still undecided and may remain that way for the next few weeks, coaches said.

“Our keepers are working hard every day in practice,” said UNA Assistant Coach Chris McBride.  “We haven’t decided on a starter yet.”

In Friday’s exhibition the Lions put some of the non-starters on the pitch for the majority of the game.  It would be hard to classify them as second string because there is not much of a drop-off when they are in, said senior midfielder Nikki Brown.

“They are all composed on the ball and play so hard,” Brown said.  “It’s good for us as a team, because with depth like that, it makes practices more competitive, too.”

Midfielder Jo Chubb said this depth is what will make a difference going forward.

“We all know we can go as hard as we can when we’re out there because the team won’t miss a beat when someone is subbed out,” said Chubb.

The Lions open their season at home this weekend with two games.  The Lions face Tennessee-Wesleyan Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. UNA will take on Barry Sept. 2 at 4 p.m.