Aug. 7, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Wednesday marked the first day of training camp for the Tennessee soccer team. Even with a 7:30 a.m. start, the players provided great intensity to kick off the start of a long 2013 season.
The coaching staff immediately got to work implementing patterns, creating decision-making scenarios and emphasizing space awareness.
"I thought the first practice was great," second-year Tennessee head coach Brian Pensky said. "The energy was fantastic, the effort was fantastic and their attention to detail was good. We started to put some ideas in their heads in terms of some combination play, give-and-go's, overlaps and things like that. The effort was good. It was a little rough in terms of execution, but that's to be expected."
After warm-ups, the field players worked on passing drills while the goalkeepers did individual work with assistant coach Joe Kirt.
Although nearly half of the team is comprised of newcomers, communication between players was impressive during 4v4 +2 drills in tight space. Many of the veterans, such as Caroline Brown and Gabby Santorio, communicated well during play with newcomers, indicating that offseason work with their new teammates was valuable.
ROLES TO FILL
Harrison, who was the 2012 team captain, patrolled the middle of the field as an attacking midfielder and was vital to offensive communication. Hall, a 2012 All-SEC player, was a rock as the center back of arguably the strongest back line in the conference and the best in school history. Bono was an attacking midfielder who had three match-winners and took the majority of the corner kicks.
UT will have a variety of options to fill each role as the roster is loaded with talented returners and exciting newcomers. On paper, junior transfer Megan Erskine and sophomore Gabby Santorio are candidates to be key contributors on defense either as a back or in the midfield. Sophomores Susan Ferguson, Peyton Thomas and Suzanne Capocaccia should factor in at that midfield/defense area as well. It is far too early to tell, but someone from that group should emerge in these next few weeks.
Highly-touted freshman and U-19 Danish National Team member Amalie Thestrup should factor in somewhere as a scorer, helping replace Bono's late-match strikes.
The team also graduated Alexis Owens, whose speed off the bench allowed Tennessee to continue to be aggressive offensively when starters were subbed out.
The next three weeks heading into the team's 2013 regular season opener against Oklahoma on Aug. 23 should be exciting as veterans and newcomers compete for those key roles.
WELCOME BACK, JESSICA
Redshirt senior goalkeeper Jessica Rolfs, who sat out the 2012 season due to injury, was back on the field on Wednesday.
Rolfs saw her 2012 end with a preseason injury that sidelined her for months. In her return to the practice field, she looked solid. She is one of four goalkeepers on the roster. Rolf's experience will be very important in helping all of the new freshmen, including rookie keeper Maddie Fancher, adapt to collegiate soccer.