Opening Statement: We had one game this past weekend on Friday night. We beat UAB 4-1.We had a very good performance from our group. We hadn’t beaten them in 10 years. It was a very good result for us. We got two goals from Rafaelle Souza, one goal from Mandy McCalla and a goal from our senior midfielder Alex Hildal. We had very good play in the back four from Samantha Sanders, Maddie Friedmann, Maddie Cunningham and Jessica Hiskey. They have been solid all year and they’ve really been getting ready for the SEC season.
We start SEC play on Friday against Arkansas. They gave us trouble both of my first two years here. We tied them here two years ago and lost up there in overtime last year. They have a new coach. They’re very well organized and they’re playing very, very hard. They lost to Florida State 1-0 yesterday and Florida State is the number one team in the country currently. They’re tough defensively. It’s going to be a very difficult task for us.
On Sunday we have Texas A&M coming to town. They’re ranked in the top 20. They’re 6-1 and playing very well. They’re always a tough team. They have a lot of very good athletes. It will be a really tough task for us.
We’re certainly excited to start SEC play. We’re 7-0 going into conference play. We’re starting all over as we get into conference play. We’re certainly excited to get going. We want a big crowd out Friday night. The crowds have been fantastic. We love for the Rebel Nation to come out and support us before the big football game and sneak back out there Sunday at 1 p.m.
On stepping up into league play: It’s certainly tougher. We’ve done a good job preparing our team for SEC play. We have a number of returners who have been through the battles. We do have some freshmen playing that are going to have to continue stepping up. The intensity of SEC play is always much higher. There’s no secrets, everybody knows everybody. They know the film and they know the players. It’s about how well you can execute game in and game out. We’re certainly stepping up a level that’s for sure.
On possible improvements: We’ve got to be more consistent. If you look at our first half on Friday night, we started out really well but had a lull in the middle of the half. We’ve got to be more consistent in all phases. We want to continue execution as we go forward. We want to keep being dangerous. Consistency is probably the biggest thing we’re looking to continue to improve on as we go into conference play.
On the readiness of freshmen going into conference play: They got a lot of minutes against Texas Tech and UAB. I think they’re ready. They don’t look like freshmen to me. They come out and battled and they’re ready to go. They have seven games under their belt. It’s time to see what they can do against SEC competition.
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