By Sarah Catherine Baker, Staff Writer —
The fall season for UTC soccer was the best season for the program in a decade, even with one of the youngest teams in the conference. The team gained more success than the past seasons, but it wasn’t quite enough for the Mocs to be satisfied.
The ladies finished 6-11-2 overall for the season, 4-4-1 in the Southern Conference and finishing tied for fifth in the conference. On average, the team’s starting line up mostly consists of freshmen. Head soccer coach, Gavin McKinney said that the team’s results out-of-conference might have been a reflection of the young age of the team.
UTC had 14 freshmen on the roster this past season and they will welcome seven incoming freshmen this fall. On national signing day, the Mocs added two forwards, two midfielders, two defenders and one keeper to the 2017 fall roster.
The team started the season running a 3-5-2 formation and realized that the team wasn’t producing enough goals this way. The coaches decided that they would switch to a 4-3-3 formation mid-season in order to bring more familiarity to the style of play since that’s what most of the team played in the high school club teams.
Coach McKinney said, “Experience played a part in it, but we wanted to get back to basics and find more of a flow.” In order to move forward as a team, coach said that they need to be “tactically flexible.”
Coach McKinney said that the major factor that separates them from being at the top end of the league this coming season will be goal scoring.
“If you look at results, I don’t think we are too far off. We can organize ourselves fairly well and we work pretty hard defensively. I just think we need to add a little more quality on the other end of the pitch.”
The new additions to the fall roster are planned to help with goal scoring. Both Chloe Arnold (Bristol, Tenn.) and Emily Szymanski (three-time Offensive Player of the Year) are believed to help contribute to the team significantly as forwards.
Arnold is a four-time District Forward of the Year and Szymanski was three-time Offensive Player of the Year. Both players have received prestigious recognition on the field for their success on offense. Coach said, “All and all, it’s a good group and they will definitely make us better.
Since the women are in their off-season, they have been buys with training for the fall 2017 season. Coach McKinney thinks that is where it starts when preparing for a better fall season.
“If we are doing what we do now, on the field, in the weight room and the little things like nutrition, we think confidence comes in how you act every day. So, if we are doing these things every day, that should translate to what we are doing on the pitch.” He said, “There are a lot of things we need to do I order to get to where we need to go, but we are pretty focused in doing so.”
Coach McKinney said, “I think we did gain a lot of experience this past season and a little taste of success. I don’t think we are too far off. Seven of our losses were by one goal. So, for a young group to compete the way they did, and pick up experience the way they did, I think the future definitely is bright.”