After a victory over Coker last week, the Lady Blazers soccer team has a tough test with a long road trip ahead and the added pressure of the first conference game against Delta State on Friday.
Last year, the Blazers escaped with a 1-0 victory over Delta State. However, they had home field advantage in a mid-season game. This year is a different story. Thursday they will travel 10-12 hours and hope to work out any early season kinks in this crucial Gulf South Conference opener.
This week at practice the Blazers look to improve on last week’s performance against Coker when they out-shot them 28-2 (19 shots on goal) but only one managed to find the net, making the final score 1-0. Coach Melissa Heinz is focusing on addressing this problem before Friday.
“We created really well to get into shooting opportunities, but that final shot needed to be better,” Coach Heinz said.
Leanne Bishop, sophomore mid-fielder, had the lone goal in last week’s game, and when asked what she could do to make an impact Friday, Bishop put it simply, “Score.” With the way the defense played against Coker, any lead certainly looks like a big one.
The Lady Blazers, who are not satisfied with last week’s game and are focused on Delta State, will not be fazed by the long road trip ahead of them.
“There is that extra element of a long 10 to 12 hour trip, so I think that’s going to be a little bit [taxing], but nothing that should give them a reason to do anything but win,” Coach Heinz said.
Rebecca Miller, sophomore forward, was very active in last week’s game with 6 shots, 5 on goal, and an assist. Preparing for a long road trip can be stressful, but Miller knows what it takes to acclimate for kickoff.
“Get your body to not feel sluggish by remembering why we are on these road trips, and really take things seriously” Miller said. “Focus on why we are there because it’s going to be the whole team together for 4 days,”
Last year in Gulf South Conference games the Lady Blazers went 5-1-1. Getting that first conference “W” is always important, but the team treats it as something much greater than that.
“We just want to prove who VSU is and not have a dip [in performance], because we have a lot of sophomores” Miller said.”We want to prove the sophomore slump wrong and start off our season with confidence,”
As the Lady Blazers begin road conference play in their second season, when the Lady Blazers leave town, they want it to be with the earned respect of the opposition. With a dominant-looking defense, an opportunity-creating offense and a team with something to prove, Delta State should expect nothing less.