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Soccer faces tough play before home opener

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Scott Shelton

Staff Writer

In 2018, the Troy soccer team  looks to improve upon last season’s 8-10-2 overall record in Head Coach Ged O’Connor’s second season at Troy. 

Last season, the Trojans finished third in the conference and were knocked out of the first round of the Sun Belt Tournament by Georgia Southern. 

This year in the 2018 Sun Belt Women’s Soccer Coaches’ Preseason Poll, the Trojans were picked to once again finish third.

“Based on past seasons, it’s pretty accurate,” said Megan Aaron, a senior forward and graphic design major from Sacramento, California. “We haven’t made it to the finals in the past three years, but year this we have a new coaching staff and more than half of the team is freshmen and transfers.”

South Alabama led the way with 117 overall votes and seven of the 11 first-place votes. Texas State followed in second with 97 overall votes and two first-place votes. 

The Trojans will face the Jaguars in Mobile on Sept. 28 and will face the Bobcats on the last home game of the season.

“We always get excited for South Alabama because it’s our rival,” Aaron said. “And in the first week, we play Florida State, who is nationally-ranked.”

Troy kicks off the season on the road against Jacksonville and No. 10 Florida State before opening at home against Kennesaw State on Aug. 24. 

The team faces a stretch of SEC teams, such as Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU before starting conference play against Louisiana on Sept. 14. 

The Trojans play 10 conference games and conclude the regular season on Oct. 21 against Louisiana-Monroe.

The team will have to fill the void of Haley Roberson, a defender, and Julia Winter, a midfielder, who both made the Second Team All-Sun Belt last season. Roberson graduated, and Winter transferred to Western Carolina University. 

But there’s no shortage of talent coming in to the program. Nineteen new players joined 11 veterans on the squad for preseason workouts.

“It’s a fresh start with a new team,” O’Connor said. “We’re looking forward to our new players mixing with our returning players and forming a bond that will lay the foundation for not only a successful year but a successful future for the program.”

A notable addition to the team is junior Nathali DaSilva, who was named to the NCAA All-America First Team while at East Florida State College.

In the offseason, consultant and former college soccer coach Donna Fishter spoke to the team about the team’s

 culture and what it can do to succeed. 

“(The veterans and newcomers) have meshed really well,” Aaron said. “We had a team specialist who talked to us about culture and chemistry, and we’ve yet to come across any sort of drama or animosity.” 

Thursday, Aug. 16, begins the regular season for the Trojans as they are set to travel to take on Jacksonville at 6 p.m.