Aug. 8, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - With Regal Soccer Stadium getting a nice cleaning on Wednesday and the clock winding down to Tennessee's 2012 season debut against Samford, the UT soccer team is looking sharper with each practice during these melting days of early August.
The seventh day of preseason training camp for the Tennessee soccer team featured 11v11 drills during both the morning and the afternoon sessions. These competitive head-to-head mini games have given head coach Brian Pensky and his staff a good look at their potential on-field packages.
"I think we're looking very very good," Pensky said. "We got 45 minutes of full field in this morning and we're just trying different combinations of players. We've got 11 or 12 new kids in here back from injury and last spring and some new transfers and freshmen. We're just trying a bunch of different people, trying to see which relationships work best and who can be really dangerous for us in the attack to be honest and just play."
Playing short mini games on a half-field space, Pensky and the coaches directed the players through give-and-goes and quick play in a crowded area. Pensky noted that the veterans looked crisp in combo play at the top of the box.
"Caroline Brown is a savvy in that stuff," he said. "Amy Harrison was good. It's nice to have Kylie Bono back after we rested her in the last couple of days with a muscle strain. I think Alexis Owens has been good up top. We saw some good stuff from Iyana Moore today, this afternoon. Things are starting to come together a little bit. But again, we have got to use the rest of this week to just continue to play and be competitive in environments and let some of that combination play and rhythm develop."
BAILEY UTILIZES VERSATILITY
Senior midfielder/back Tori Bailey is known for her pesky defense and great change-of-direction ball skills. On Wednesday, Bailey saw action all over the field, including time as an attacking midfielder. She welcomes this opportunity to display some of her offensive prowess.
"I find it to be really fun," Bailey said. "I love defending and I love to be a part of the back line, but it's fun to be a part of the attacking five and seeing myself getting some shots on net. It's always fun to be able to shoot and score on a goalie. But I really like it and I think I'm adjusting fairly well. I've got to work on some stuff but I like it a lot."
In Pensky's aggressive offensive style, a player like Bailey could wreak havoc on opposing defenses, drawing double teams to free up the Lady Vols' creative forwards.
"I think her speed is good, her quickness is special," Pensky said. "Her ability to change direction is great with the ball at her feet. I think in our coaching staff's mind, putting teams on their heels is first and foremost in terms of trying to wins games. I think Tori is a player that can help us do that."
MOORE RECOGNIZES TEAM'S AMBITIONS
Sophomore forward Iyana Moore can sense the drive that this 2012 UT squad has. After falling in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year, Moore and her teammates are hungry to raise the bar.
"We're definitely very motivated," Moore said. "We're pushing. We're working really hard at practice. Everything matters. We want a different result from last season - we want to go further. So, it's definitely that intensity in practice."
That intensity has been most evident in the 11v11 mini games as the players look to demonstrate their decision-making abilities and execution"
COBB MAKES THE LONG HAUL TO KNOXVILLE
Junior transfer CC Cobb arrived in Knoxville on Wednesday, making the 14-hour drive up from South Florida by herself to be introduced to her teammates at practice.
"It's been a long day, but I've been really anxious to get here and meet the girls and see what training's about," said Cobb, who transferred to UT from Florida State. "I'm just excited to be here."
Cobb looks to factor in at midfield and she has been a part of some incredible Florida State teams. As a freshman in 2010, she was a part of FSU's 16-6-1 Elite Eight squad. Last year, the Seminoles were a College Cup team. Cobb said that, in addition to Tennessee's top-notch facilities and the welcoming UT players, Pensky's reputation from their days facing each other in the ACC was a major draw. As an NCAA tournament veteran, Cobb also understands what it takes to get back there and make some noise.
"It's tough," she said. "From what I saw today though, the girls looked really focused and really dedicated and I really really think that we get there and we do something."