Blue Raider Soccer Still Perfect In Spring TourneysMarch 13, 2004 · MT Media Relations
The Blue Raiders blanked Alabama Attack, 2-0, and then finished the day with a 2-0 win against East Tennessee State to improve to 5-0-1 after two weekends of tournament action this spring.
"I think it's always good when you have a chance to play against different teams," Middle Tennessee soccer coach Aston Rhoden said. "This will hopefully help us pick up from where we left off (in the fall), and hopefully do some things better."
Middle Tennessee's defense has been outstanding so far this spring, allowing just two goals in the six games. Danielle Perreault, a rising junior, was in goal for both games Saturday.
Laura Miguez continued her impressive spring against Alabama Attack, a club team from Alabama, with a goal and an assist in the 2-0 win. Miguez broke a scoreless deadlock when she came up with a steal, dribbled through a pair of defenders and fired an unassisted goal to give the Lady Raiders all they would need. Miguez has scored four goals this spring.
Sara Wohlhueter's header found the back of the net for the second goal on a corner kick from Miguez.
"I think our success in the spring is very important but the main thing is we want to improve from game to game," Miguez said. "Our team is confident and we have chemistry. That is important."
EASY DAY IN GOAL: Perrault, the winningest keeper in a single season for the Blue Raiders (11), had a fairly easy go of it Saturday.
The rising junior recorded both shutouts but had very few save opportunities against Alabama Attack and East Tennessee State.
"I'm definitely proud of my defense, but I don't have to do a lot of work often because of the pressure we put on teams," Perrault said. "I have no complaints. It's nice to have a quiet day every now and then."
Middle Tennessee blanked its opponents in nine of the team's 12 wins last season, and it has allowed just two goals in six games so far this spring. The nine shutouts in 2003 established a new single-season record.
SEEKING CONSISTENCY: Although his Blue Raiders have been virtually flawless during the spring campaign, Rhoden is seeking to develop a more consistent soccer team for next season.
The Blue Raiders finished 2003 with the most wins in program history (12) and advanced into the Sun Belt Conference Tournament semifinals for the first time, but Rhoden, Middle Tennessee's second-year coach, believes it could have been even better and that point is being stressed this spring.
"We are not as consistent as I would like," Rhoden said. "We go after everything hard when we are competing, but we have not been consistent and that's concerning because I want us to be consistent. I think last (fall) we were not as consistent as we needed to be and that cost us a couple of games."
Rhoden has been able to stress his point by paying particular attention to detail.
"We are getting better at our fundamentals and understanding what we need to do at each position," Perrault said. "We had several (newcomers) last (fall) and they were able to play and gain confidence, which has been a big help."
BUILDING ON SUCCESS: Middle Tennessee enjoyed its most productive season in soccer ever last fall, but the returning Blue Raiders believe the 2004 squad is capable of going beyond the school-record 12 wins. "We definitely want to build on what we accomplished last year, but we have to realize last year is over and we have to work hard and focus on doing what it takes to improve in all areas," Miguez said. "I think the weights, conditioning and practice is going real well (this spring). The team is gelling, and I think we will have everything in order to have a good fall."
Not only did Middle Tennessee win a school-record 12 games in 2003, but its third-place finish was its best in the Sun Belt Conference and the five Sun Belt wins in the regular-season marked the highest conference win total in program history.
QUOTE OF NOTE: "As a group, I'm not overwhelmingly excited about how we are playing, but the good thing is we have made progress with every game. We are not where I want us to be this time of the spring, probably about two weeks from that, but we are improving." - Blue Raider soccer coach Aston Rhoden on team's performance this spring.
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