Blue Raiders set for season opener Friday

First MT sporting event of 2010-11

August 19, 2010 · Athletic Communications

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee will open its 15th soccer season at 7 p.m. Friday when it travels to Oxford, Miss., to face Mississippi. The Blue Raiders, who began preseason camp two weeks ago, held their final practice in town Thursday morning before departing to face the SEC opponent.

"From the beginning of the preseason, everyone has worked hard," head coach Aston Rhoden said. "Everyone is in good spirits. I think every other team in the country right now is also itching to play to see where we are against an outside opponent.

"Mississippi has a lot of great tradition and is coming off a fantastic season last year. They have a lot of players coming back, along with a new staff that we are familiar with and will bring a lot of quality to the program. It is certainly going to be a challenging game for us I feel like we have prepared well and now it is up to the players to show is more prepared."

Middle Tennessee concluded the 2009 campaign with a 12-6-2 record, tying for the third-best mark in school history. The Blue Raiders were led by National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-South Region members junior Shan Jones and senior Vanessa Mueggler. Both players reached the double-digit scoring plateau and received All-Sun Belt accolades as well, including Jones' second-straight first team honor.

Rhoden, who is entering his ninth season on the sideline, welcomes back 17 letterwinners, including 10 starters, from last season's squad. He begins the year just six wins shy of 100 for his Middle Tennessee tenure.

Mississippi finished last fall with a 13-6-2 record, including a 7-2-2 mark in the rigorous SEC. The Rebels welcome Matt Mott as their new head coach and he takes over the team which features six starters among 15 letterwinners returning. Mississippi was selected to place third in the SEC's Western Division in the preseason poll by the league's head coaches.

The two teams have met four times previously with Middle Tennessee snapping a string of three losses with a win in the last contest. The Blue Raiders prevailed 1-0 Sept. 19, 2008, in the only meeting of the series in Murfreesboro when Jones netted the game winner at 44:58, just before halftime.

View more photos

Middle Tennessee fans can follow the game on GameTracker live stats as well as the online audio feed from Chris Childers at the links on GoBlueRaiders.com.

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