Aug. 3, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The third day of Tennessee soccer preseason practice featured a lot of work with the central theme of head coach Brian Pensky's system - attacking rhythm.
With four goals set up along the length of a coned-out rectangle on the practice field, the UT players worked on advancing the ball through a crowded midfield to set up strikers. In those drills, senior Alexis Owens had a few nice one-on-one shots near the end of practice.
Overall, Pensky has been pleased with the team's progress through the first three days of training.
"Everybody is working hard and the discipline has been great," Pensky said. "As I said, we're juggling school and we've still got two-thirds of our group in classes. We've really been just going once a day for these first three days and focusing on an attacking rhythm, some combination play and keeping the ball a little bit. Today we worked on playing ball through seams. The hardest relationships to develop in this game are those of the attacking nature. We're just trying to get comfortable playing with each other and getting some attacking ideas. Honestly, after day three, we couldn't be more pleased."
Clouds loomed overhead for most of practice, but there was no rain or lightning to cause delays like earlier in the week.
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
Pensky noted that senior captain Amy Harrison has had the strongest showing so far in training camp.
"Amy Harrison came in very, very fit and I think that's showing," he said. "What happens over preseason is that it becomes a bit of a mental test and a bit of fatigue, both from a mental standpoint and a physical standpoint. She's pushing through it really well and I think she's aided by the fact that she's very fit. She's covering ground when maybe others are getting a little bit tired. Her soccer has been good, her ideas have been great. With the balls she's playing through, the runs she's making out at midfield, she's been very good."
LAST FIRSTS FOR SENIORS
For Tennessee's five seniors and one graduate student, the start of preseason training marked the beginning of the end of their collegiate playing careers. Senior Alexis Owens and her fellow upperclassmen have embraced this last late-summer grind.
"It has been pretty good - lots of playing," Owens said. "We've been playing a lot more than last year. For preseason, you just want to go hard and give everything. Last week, I said to one of my teammates, `This is the first day of our last preseason.' We're just trying to mesh well with all of the other girls like the freshmen and trying to become one as a unit to feel everyone out."
FROM THE APPALACHIANS TO THE SMOKIES
Junior Katie Lenz transferred to Tennessee from West Virginia and is enjoying her time in Knoxville. Adjusting to a new team has gone smoothly, but the South's heat has been less kind to the Mechanicsburg, Pa., native.
"It has been a relatively easy adjustment, surprisingly," Lenz said. "I thought adjusting would be a lot harder than it was. Everyone has been great welcoming me and I've been able to get in with all of the players and play with them. The got to know me after I came down a little bit early just to get know everyone and get acclimated to the heat down here. The air quality is definitely a lot different than it is in West Virginia. That was a little harder to get adjusted to, but now I'm excited and I'm ready to get going here."
ALL TOGETHER NOW
Naturally, the freshmen are adapting to their new surroundings. Peyton Thomas said that the training level in college is certainly different than it was in high school.
"High school is definitely not as physically demanding as this whole college experience is for me," Thomas said. "It was a little hard to adjust at first. I came during the second summer session. So, working out by myself this summer and getting here and working out with the team is just a big adjustment. You get used to it, you work hard and you catch up to the rest of the ones who have been here the whole summer. I think that we're all sort of on the same page now at a fitness level."