By David Rogers. August 10, 2017. BOONE, NC — If soccer games were won by time of possession in an opponents half of the field or the number of shots on goal, Appalachian State women’s soccer would have beaten visiting East Tennessee State University by a proverbial landslide Thursday night at Ted Mackeroll Soccer Stadium. But a tight-knit Buccaneer defense and the Mountaineers’ challenges in mounting an attack inside the box allowed ETSU to forge a 1-1 tie at the end of the three exhibition periods. Eleven players from each team engaged in a penalty kick shootout afterwards, but that also ended with a deadlocked score.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been corrected. Blowing Rock News originally reported that ETSU had prevailed in the shootout.
Photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News. SLIDESHOW @ bottom of article.
Reflecting the time of possession in ETSU’s defending half of the field, Appalachian pounded a barrage of 17 shots (9 of them on target), compared to ETSU’s just four shots, three on goal. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, most of their shot attempts came from well outside the penalty box and the persistent Buccaneer defense thwarted most of the App State offensive play inside.
We have to get more players in the box on offense.
Afterwards, Appalachian head coach Sarah Strickland praised her charges for the aggressive attack from long range, but added, “We have to get more players, at least six inside the box in those situations to clean things up, get the rebounds, and put the ball in the net.”
Before the match, Sarah Strickland admitted to Blowing Rock News that the goal for this exhibition had nothing to do with winning, “…but to see what we have.”
It looks like App State has a lot. Strickland deployed a total of 25 players during the exhibition and every player except one saw action in at least two different positions.
“I think it is important this early in the season,” Strickland explained afterwards, “for our players to fill their teammates shoes, to see the game through their eyes, in a sense. For an offensive player to see the game from a defender’s perspective, they learn how to be a better teammate, a better contributor to the team’s overall success. They better appreciate what that defender does and vice-versa.
“So for us to at times dominate possession and come away with a tie at the end of regulation,” she added, “is pretty good…I have been researching how many players other teams, especially our Sun Belt Conference opponents, have been using in these early season exhibitions. It has been more common for them to use 15-20, so for us to use 25 and still play as well as we did, speaks volumes about our student athletes’ fitness level and preparedness, and maybe offers a hint or two as to our roster depth.”
There were an estimated 150+ spectators for this early season friendly, the only exhibition on the schedule, and for the many regulars it was obvious that the Mountaineer coaching braintrust was not loading up the team at any time with all veterans, but mixing in younger players in and amongst the upperclassmen on the field. While the one-touch passing that was a hallmark of the Mountaineers especially toward the end of last season was not as precise, there were hints that the pre-season work dating all the way back to the spring is bearing fruit.
And those off-season and preseason performances have prompted Strickland to re-evaluate some of her personnel.
Case in point: Lindsey Tully. A mainstay at the center of the Mountaineer defensive backline during 2016’s fall campaign, the now 5’6″ senior out of Charlotte Catholic impressed her coaches during the spring season with her offensive prowess.
“Lindsey was scoring goals from everywhere,” Strickland observed to Blowing Rock News. “So she is going to be moved to the front line. We are pretty deep in the backline, but we can use her firepower and great instincts in frWhilont of our opponents’ nets.”
While Tully was not credited with Thursday night’s goal during regulation, it was her shot at goal that ended up in front of junior forward Kat Greer (off of an assist credited to forward Sharon Osterbind), who punched the ball past the ETSU goalie for the game’s first score in the first period.
Blowing Rock News spoke with Tully, Greer and fellow senior forward Erin Settle afterwards. Asked which game or games they were most looking forward to this season, they spoke nearly in one voice: “South Alabama.”
The Jaguars were the Sun Belt Conference champions last fall, getting by the Mountaineers in the semifinals of the Sun Belt tournament after App State had edged South Alabama in the last match of the regular season at Ted Mackeroll Stadium, in two overtimes.
Next action for the Appalachian State women is Friday, August 18th, also at Ted Mackeroll Soccer Stadium with a 4:00 pm kickoff against High Point University.