Aug. 13, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee soccer team enjoyed a strong morning practice on Monday, the 12th day of preseason training, working in a variety of field setups to hone the possession skills necessary for its new aggressive attack.
UT held a morning training session and followed with film study in the afternoon. In the morning, the team started with possession, keep-away drills in a short, three-square field format. After that full-field, 11v11 play with defensive decision-making instruction followed. First-year assistant coach Joe Mallia liked what he saw on the Regal practice field.
“We had a good session today,” Mallia said. “Today it was a little bit of a short and sweet one. It was our seventh day in a row of training. We had some doubles in there so we went a bit light in terms of the length of today’s practice. But the girls worked hard and we worked to get on a little bit of our possession and our shape in the midfield and just try to build our style of attack.”
The team’s progression over the first 12 days of preseason training has pleased the coaching staff, which knows that the best is yet to come for the Lady Vols.
“The picture now compared to Day 1 is great,” Mallia said. “We’ve done a lot of work on how we want to attack teams and keep the ball in play. I think it’s come a long way and I think everyone’s come to that point where they are excited for what’s next."
DEFENSE RELIES ON VETERAN SAVVY
The Lady Vols’ defense has been tested this summer as head coach Brian Pensky’s attacking scheme tends to bring numbers to flood the opposing side of the field. But with veterans like senior Ali Hall, junior Caroline Capocaccia and sophomore Allie Sirna, the UT defense has been sharp adjusting to the new looks.
“The defense is doing really good,” Hall said. “We have been working together now for a couple of years, so everyone is getting together. We have some new players that are really getting into the mix very well. Everyone gets along back there – it’s like a little backline family. So, just going over the tactical stuff and the repetition is what’s most important and that’s what we’ve been doing a lot this season and everything has come together very well.”
On Monday, the coaches stressed decision-making situations with the defensive midfielders where either covering the ball or the outlet results in the back line making adjustments.
“There’s a lot of different things that people don’t really see as far as what the defense has to do as far as moving back and forth, getting up, etc.,” Hall said. “So, those little things are really coming together. We just need to keep working on it."
THIS TIME AROUND
Sophomore goalkeeper Julie Eckel, a 2011 SEC All-Freshman Team selection, noted that her second training camp in Orange and White has been much different than her first, thanks largely to having a full season of collegiate strength and conditioning work.
"It’s definitely better coming in after having a whole spring of strength work because it lets us be more explosive,” Eckel said. "Just from this year compared to last year, I’m not getting tired as quickly, having stronger legs I guess and not getting as fatigued throughout practice."
That better fitness showed at the end of practice. The field players and the goalkeepers went head-to-head in two timed scoring drills. The goalies won the first go-around with Eckel, RB Wyatt and Hannah Steadman making some great saves. The field players took the second drill.
"It was a really great way to end practice with us winning one and them winning one because it showed how competitive our training environment is," Eckel said. "It shows being able to compete with each other is really fun."