By Caleb Odom
It was a hot mid-August morning when the Troy soccer team practiced as head coach Chris Bentley worked to improve his group of girls, one pass at a time.
The coach was making the team practice on controlling the ball better so that in a game the Trojan attackers will put pressure on the other team’s defense, which leads to vulnerability.
“I think right now really what we are looking to do is build possession to penetrate the lines of their defense,” Bentley said. “We are trying to break lines. It might be our back line beating their front line, our mid line beating their mid line so that it makes them commit players to defend as opposed to keeping organized.”
With home exhibition matches beginning next week, Troy is pushing through the remainder of preseason practice.
“We are at the tail end of preseason right now and we are at the place where we are a little fatigued, legs are getting weary,” Bentley said. “It’s just that time of practice but I do think that we are progressing quite well.”
The Trojans have senior Cecilia Thorngren returning to lead the offensive attack.
Last season Thorngren was a valuable playmaker for Troy with her four goals but she also played the part of facilitator, collecting nine assists during the 2012 campaign.
Goal scorers Maddie Tieken, Louise Cheng, Jasmine Fahrnbauer and Jane Latif, who accounted for 11 goals combined last season, are all back this year.
The Troy senior goalkeeper Maddie Winter, who had 63 saves in 14 games last year, is also back to help keep balls out of the net.
Coach Bentley said now that his team has a basis in practice, it is time to focus more on specific roles of each player.
Once the home exhibition matches begin on Sunday, Aug. 18, when Troy takes on the University of Mobile at 4 p.m., the Trojan coaches will have a better feeling about the team.
“It gives us a chance to look at players in a lot of different positions,” Bentley said. “It gives us an opportunity to give everyone some playing time and it also gives us a chance to get some decent video analysis that is team specific.”
From gathering this information, Bentley will be able to diagnose weaker aspects of the team’s performance such as the Trojans’ play in the attacking third of the field last year.
“I think our quality in the final third lacked a little bit last year,” Bentley said. “We could have been a little bit better finishing our opportunities.”
But the potential of the 2013 squad lies in experience of the returners.
“We have got a lot of steady players that have come back, and they are better than they were last year,” Bentley said.
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