Soccer kicks off 15th season with practice Thursday

Ten starters return for 2010 campaign

August 4, 2010 · Athletic Communications

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The 15th season of Middle Tennessee soccer gets underway Thursday as the Blue Raiders report to campus for the start of preseason practice. The team welcomes back 17 letterwinners, 10 of which are starters, from a year ago to go along with seven newcomers to form the roster on head coach Aston Rhoden's ninth squad in Murfreesboro.

"It certainly is going to be an exciting year," Rhoden said. "We are coming off a very good spring and had strong work effort over the summer. I think the team, at least physically, is going to be ready going into the season.

"We have a really strong core of returning players. We were very young last year and I think a lot of those players have grown up quite a bit over the spring and summer. We also have a talented group of freshmen players, who I feel will come in and give us a whole different look."

Two reigning All-Sun Belt Conference and All-South Region selections in senior Vanessa Mueggler and junior Shan Jones highlight the offensive returners. Both players reached the double-digit goal plateau last fall, led by Jones' career-high tying 11. Mueggler netted her first career hat trick on the way to a career-best 10 scores. Both players were rewarded for their outstanding seasons with postseason accolades, including just the second and third NSCAA All-South Region honors in program history.

Complimenting the pair in the attack will be sophomores Whitney Jorgenson and Regina Thomas, along with freshmen Heidel Johannessen and Jessika Oseguera. Jorgenson and Thomas combined for 10 goals in their first season as Blue Raiders and will be looking to add more scoring punch up front. Johannessen and Oseguera both have solid club resumes entering Middle Tennessee that they are looking to translate into success at the next level.

Midfield may be the Blue Raiders' strongest position with a variety of options, both to help the scoring attack and to assist on the defensive side. Junior Luisa Moscoso and sophomore Paige Goeglein have both shown the ability to crash the net and put the ball over the line when it counts. Junior Hope Suominen also is a key component to the offense, contributing seven assists in 2009 for the top returning number among the returners. Senior Jaimee Cooper and junior Laura Lamberth round out the midfielders who have collegiate experience. The duo may not necessarily have the statistical numbers as others, but their contributions on the field are vital to Middle Tennessee success.

Newcomers Greta Jochmann and Morgan Jones will add their skills to the midfield, as well. They are players with strong skills on the defensive side of the position, helping to crack down against the opposition.

Leading the defensive third will be seniors Emily Harris, Fran Howells and Emily Snowdon with junior Elisabeth Sikes heavily involved as well. The Blue Raiders will count on their veteran leadership in the back, helping to mark the top opponent threats and eliminating any scoring chances. Sophomores Charity Blair and Allison Stallard both gained valuable playing time last fall and will be looked upon to add to their pedigrees this season.

Incoming players Maddie Harper and Birgitte Hauge, in addition to Jones' versatility, will assist in the depth on the backline. Both had outstanding prep careers with the goal of carrying it over to the collegiate level.

Junior Rebecca Cushing returns as the team's top goalkeeper, having started all 20 matches last fall. She posted four shutouts and factored into the decision in every contest. With sophomore Jessica Gilchrist suffering an offseason injury, freshman Lindsey Sisco will have the chance to prove herself as a solid backup between the pipes.

"Our schedule is exciting and certainly challenging. It is probably one of the strongest we have played in school history, but our players are excited about it. They know it is going to take a lot of work and a lot of chemistry on their part to be able to have a successful season. But, I think everybody is upbeat. We are really anxious to get started and see if we can put all the pieces together to solve the puzzle and be more successful than we have ever been."

Middle Tennessee posted a 12-6-2 record last fall, tying for the third-best mark in program history. Rhoden enters the campaign just six wins shy of attaining 100 for his Blue Raider career. However, the squad is set to face the most challenging schedule in school history. Rhoden is confident he will have his team ready for the season opener August 20 at SEC foe Mississippi.

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