Blue Raider Ready For Season Opener

August 30, 2001 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders and second-year head coach Scott Ginn begin the season with a trip to the Southern Miss Tournament in Hattiesburg, Miss., Friday, August 31-Sunday, September 2. MT will face the homestanding Golden Eagles at 5 p.m. on Friday before taking on Nicholls State at 1 p.m. Sunday.

The Blue Raiders return 10 letterwinners from last season's 8-11 squad, including seniors Megan Holsten, Jessica Busey and Rachael Sulkers. Junior Sarah Schulz holds the school record for career assists with 17 in her first two seasons in the Blue and White, and returns to lead the offensive attack.

MT's first opponent, Southern Miss, comes off a 9-8 season of a year ago under second-year head coach Matt Clark. The Golden Eagles finished fifth in Conference USA in 2000, and return seven starters and 14 letterwinners from last year's squad.

Nicholls State returns five starters and seven letterwinners from last year's 2-16 club. The Colonels finished seventh in the Southland Conference a year ago, and square off against the Blue Raiders on Sunday.

Ginn is excited to get the season underway after almost three full weeks of preseason work.

"We're ready to play a match. I have many questions about our team, and a lot of those will be answered this weekend," Ginn said.

"You can practice and practice, but eventually you need to play a match. And we're very ready to get started against Southern Miss."

The youthful squad, which features 14 freshmen among the 26 players, has seven matches before Sun Belt action begins September 28 against Florida International.

"I'm very anxious to see how all the young players react. We as a coaching staff need to make sure and get everyone playing time so we can evaluate. But with so many newcomers we're still unsure of how and where substitutions will be made."

The Blue Raiders lost senior goalkeeper Jennifer Robb to graduation and will likely go with sophomore Emily Shrum in net, but defense could very well be the team's strong-suit this season.

"With the combination of playing in the system for a second year and the many upperclassmen we have playing in the back, our defense should be what pulls us through all year," Ginn added.

The Blue Raiders continue their three-game road swing to begin the season on September 5 with a 5 p.m. contest at UT-Martin. MT then opens home play against Jacksonville State at 1 p.m. on Saturday, September 8.

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.