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Blue Raiders detail the 2013 season

August 15, 2013 · @MTAthletics

Oct. 27, 2013 - Katinka Stenberg

Sunday means game day, and we knew going into today's game that we HAD to win against FIU after we lost to North Texas Friday night. We knew that it wasn't going to be an easy game, but we were all prepared to fight for 90 minutes. Last year in the conference tournament we played FIU and sadly lost to them in the semifinals, so we had an extra chip on our shoulders with this game.

The day started out like every Sunday at home does, with breakfast at Panera at 9 a.m. After that we had our positional meetings before we all went to the locker room to get ready for the game. We blast our music like we always do, get changed and everyone prepares themselves for the game. At 12:15 p.m. the coaches come in and we are told what we need out of the game, which we all know is a win. After coach Aston is done talking, we all run outside for our warm-up. Today's weather was perfect "soccer weather". Not too cold, not too hot. Being from Norway I am used to it being cold in October, so being able to play in just shorts and short-sleeve jerseys is not something I am used to at this time of the year.

After a good warm up we jog back to the locker room to put our jerseys on. When everyone is ready we play our song that we always play before we run out on the field. After this the starting lines for the teams are presented, the National Anthem is played, and we sing our school song. This gets everyone hyped up, and we are ready to go. The referee blows his whistle and the game is on.

Both teams had their chances in the first half, but we were able to take a 1-0 lead in the 44th minute, a goal scored by Grace Summers. Going into the locker room at halftime with a lead, we all knew that FIU was going to come out strong in the second half. In the second half we fought hard and neither of the teams managed to get the ball in the back of the net, and the win was ours! We were all really excited, and it felt amazing to get the win! We now have practice Monday and Tuesday before we travel to ECU on Wednesday. We play Thursday night and this is a game we have to win to make it to the tournament.

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Oct. 25, 2013 - Madison Ledet

We walk in to the locker room knowing what had to get out of this game ... a win against North Texas. We all knew it was an important game, not only because we dislike that team, but also to get where we want to be in our conference we had to have a win.

We do our normal routine: get in there at 5:45, blare pump up music, and get changed ready to go. Since it was below freezing outside and we wear our hoop jerseys, we got to play in our long sleeve hoop jerseys, which I didn't know existed until last night. We also got our Parka jackets to wear on the bench. With all of this new stuff, it just got us more pumped for the game.

So we're in the main locker room listening to pump up music and we hear a loud knock on the door. We all knew it was the coaches. We quickly turn the music off and get situated and we open the door. He tells us how important this game is and what we need to get out of this. We all knew but he reassures us to make sure. He tells us the starting 11 and it's game time. We run out there to start our warm up.

We have a good, solid warm up. Playing the way we play, moving the ball fast, and defending the way we need to be. Right now, it's anyone's game. Having a good warm up just gets us even more ready for the game. With 10 minutes left in the warm up, we go back into the locker room to put on our new jerseys. Before we go back out, we do a slow clap ending with a loud cheer in the end. Then we line up and run out to the field. The starting 11 get the balls, sign them and the rest make a tunnel for them to run through. The announcer is calling out the stating 11 for North Texas and all we do is watch them run out while we get ready. Then it's our time. The announcer calls out Kelsey Brouwer first with her song playing then so on and so forth, cheering for everyone going through the tunnel. After that National anthem, the starting 11 throw their balls they signed out into the audience and we all get together in a circle to sing our schools fight song. Screaming, jumping and singing, then ending with a team on three. Game on.

We start out strong. The bench stands up for the first 5 minutes to give the players out there on the field a little boost. The ball goes out wide to North Texas, Emily Jorgenson put her hand up, thinking it was offside, but it wasn't so she started to turn towards the girl with the ball but she was a second too late. She crossed it in to the back post and goal. Everyone's silent but North Texas. 1-0. Still in the game. We held them up all first half. During the first half, everyone was down. Coming out of the first half being one goal down, knowing that you need a win out of this game is hard. We go into the locker room, and Aston tells us what we need to work on. Feeling confident, we go back out on the field to warm up our bodies and get ready to go. 2nd half is under way.

Nine minutes into the first half, the mid field has the ball, going in and out with the defense, Kate Loye passes it to Emily Jorgenson on the left, she crosses it in to Grace Summers and she shoots and scores!!! 1-1! We were so dang excited. One step closer where we need to be, but we only hold up that tie with them for three minutes. They played a big ball from the back to up top and it was a foot race. Our defender was neck and neck with their forward and their feet got tangled up and the foul was called on us in the box. PK. 15 for them came to take it and she kicks it to the bottom left corner. 2-1. Silence, but North Texas cheering again. This is not easy to take in right now. We are still in this game with 33 minutes left in the game. 9 minutes later, another goal scored but for North Texas. Our team breaks down from here. We knew we had a lot of time until the end of the game, but its hard to come back from that. The bench stands up with 10 minutes left in the game, to help our players out. Game over. 3-1 lost. This was not easy to take in. we do our cool down; no one is talking to anyone, just silence and disappointment in the air. All we can do now is let this one go and move on. I wish it was that easy, but we have to do just that. Aston gets us together and tells us we have to win Sunday's game. We go "team" on three and break. All we can do now is get ready for Sunday's game at 1 against FIU.

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Oct. 19, 2013 - Brianna Jasenak

When I heard we were playing Old Dominion this year after moving into C-USA I was really excited. Virginia is my home state and my home town, Yorktown, is only about 25 minutes from ODU. Virginia is a wonderful state full of rich history and when we arrived we stayed at the Renaissance Hotel right on the water of historic Portsmouth. It was really beautiful. We got to walk through the historic streets to dinner and look at all the gorgeous historic homes. Dinner was fantastic but what really mattered was how we performed against ODU.

It was a hard fought game and we had our fair amount of scoring chances. The game went into double overtime only to come out still with a 1-1 tie result. It was not what we had expected or wanted to achieve at the end of the day but we kept our heads up and regained our focus for the next task at hand. We would have to travel on bus 7 hours to West Virginia to play Marshal next and we needed a win. Even though we tied, it was still great to be so close to home and see all my family and friends at the game.

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Oct. 13, 2013 - Taylor Kirk

This week was filled with practices, weights, and more exhaustingly mid-term exams. However, as a team we had some big plans to look forward to the weekend! We tried to get into the festivities of this season by visiting a pumpkin patch, making our own path through a corn maze, and competing in an apartment bake off! In addition to our seasonal efforts, as we all know, the month of October is dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness.

Our "Think Pink" game this season was this past Sunday as we played Louisiana Tech. After the National Anthem we recognized the friends and family members of both teams who have been affected by breast cancer by wearing pink warm-up shirts and releasing pink balloons into the sky. Honestly, it was rather emotional seeing the balloons floating away in the wind as many of us truly realized how many people are affected by breast cancer.

With that being said, the game itself was challenging for us. We couldn't quite figure out how to break past their "packed house" of a defense, as they put little to no pressure on our backline and we had minimal shots on goal. In the end, today was a learning lesson for us as we unfortunately suffered a 1-0 loss. Luckily we're back on the grind this week in order to prepare for Old Dominion and Marshall next weekend.

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Sept. 30, 2013 - Kelsey Branstetter

Saturday morning, the MTSU women's soccer team reported for a rejuvenation session followed by a meeting to go over last night's game and to focus our sights on the game at hand. The team knew going into the match that Colorado College won the conference last year and this was going to be a good game.

On Sunday morning the MTSU soccer team all met for breakfast at Panera, little did we know that our opponents had the same idea. Can you say...awkward? As the team was heading out, everyone was getting excited for the game. Seeing our opponents ahead of time put a bad taste in our mouths.

The weather was perfect for a soccer game. It was a brisk fall day with a gloriously warm sun. The team knew what needed to be done. We started off the game with good pace. Both teams were keeping the ball and connecting well when they had possession. MTSU had several great combinations and was getting in behind their line early, but we were mistiming our runs. The first half went quickly both teams thwarting one another's attack.

By the time the second half rolled around, Colorado College came out with a fierce intensity. We were doing well countering and denying them opportunities. Unfortunately, they snuck in a pair of goals within the first fifteen minutes. From there MTSU had several chances and we were pressing hard for the rest of the game. Even with all of our effort, we did not score a goal. The game ended in a 2-0 loss, our first loss in Conference USA. We will regroup Monday morning and rebound back from this game next weekend against Florida Atlantic and UNC Charlotte.

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Sept. 24, 2013 - Emily Hartshorn

The Alabama A&M game last Friday was one we were pleased to add another win to our record this season. It was also a great way to end our non-conference games.

The first half we came out strong and put away seven goals. Our forwards were the main contributors for the number of goals we scored in that game.  Grace Summers and Katinka Stenberg both had two goals, Kate Loye and Rachael Figg both put a goal away and Ali Gale scored her first goal of her college career as well.  They put away their opportunities, and helped us keep the ball on Alabama A&M's half of the field throughout the game.

Although, we struggled to keep the tempo up the entire game, it was definitely a game that helped us grow as a team and improve keeping possession of the ball. The entire team was able to make a difference and improve this game, due to the fact that every girl got playing time and a chance to make a difference. This game was a solid stepping-stone for the entire team to learn how to maintain a game this season. We plan to keep moving in the right direction after this game and are excited to start our Conference-USA games next week.

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Sept. 21, 2013 - Spencer Roberts

Fresh off our third win this past Friday against Alabama A&M our coaches rewarded us with two days off for our hard work. This time was much appreciated by our entire team, we really took advantage and got some extra zzz's. However, after our relaxing and rejuvenating weekend it was back to business with practice Monday morning. We showed up bright and early to the practice field on this chilly morning still half asleep. Things started off slowly during warm up but we quickly got back in the groove of things because we know we needed to prepare for our first conference games this weekend. The team is very excited to finally get into conference play! We are super focused this week on keeping up the winning streak and working hard on perfecting our play. I think these last three wins have really changed the attitude and mindset of the team. We have certainly improved our ability to work together as a team instead of as individuals with every game. We started off not knowing how each other like to play because of the high number of freshmen but we have certainly figured things out. I definitely think we as a team are ready to go out and compete hard in this new conference. We hope to see all you MT fans in the stands this weekend to embark on this new journey that is Conference USA with us!

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Sept. 17, 2013 - Kelsie Roberts

Fresh off of two big wins on the weekend and a day of rest just yesterday, Aston's Army reported bright and early this morning to the practice field to get right back to the grind!

As the team slowly arrived to the field in waves, self-proclaimed "Ronaldinho", or better known as Kelsey Brouwer was one of the first up and ready with a ball at her feet. As she played around with it for a bit on her own until assistant Coach Chris had arrived to the field and strolled past her along the fence line. Without hesitation, "Ronaldinho" exclaims "and she bends it around the coach" (in a British accent might I add) as she winds up and strikes the ball. As the ball takes flight it clearly is not bending around Chris the way in which "Ronaldinho" had so confidently exclaimed. Instead, it launches into the street, clear over the fence. A little embarrassed to say the least, Brouwer goes to retrieve the ball and the team begins to warm up with Coach B.

Throughout the remainder of the training session the team worked through several small sided drills before coming together to play a full field game. From start to finish you could chalk it up to perhaps be one of our "rougher" practices this year. However, despite the struggles, with a few insightful words from the staff, the team was able to change gears and get back into the swing of things for weights later in the afternoon. Everyone put in a lot of effort and you could tell our focus and drive had returned. With our sights set on our now fast approaching first conference games the team is definitely ready to put in the work for our upcoming training sessions the rest of the week.

I personally believe that though we had a rough start to the week, but we will pull together and turn it around. They say, "Adversity causes some men to break, others to break records." (William Arthur Ward). We may have faced a few challenges early on this week but we are ready to turn it around, turn it up and kick some butt!

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Sept. 15, 2013 - Rachael Figg

It has been an exciting and thrilling weekend here at home, having played two in-state teams! After our exciting win over Tennessee, we still weren't quite done with our weekend yet! On Saturday we had a pool recovery session which helped us relax and helped with our sore muscles. Following our pool recovery, we then went in for a film session and to prepare for our game against Tennessee Tech. During our film sessions, we learn what we are doing right and what we need to fix for our upcoming game.

Prior to our game, we knew that Tennessee Tech would come out with intensity because we were their only game this weekend! So with that noted, we knew we needed enough rest to undergo another full 90 minutes of exertion against this well rested team.

Aston challenged us to win 2 consecutive games and by more than a single goal. He also wanted to win by playing our game and maintaining effective ball possession and player movement. We did just that!

Our first goal came off an assist from Kate Loye to Tori Hawkins, as she took a great touch and volleyed it in the back of the net, scoring her first goal of the season. Once she scored it helped our team to calm down and build more scoring opportunities. Shortly after, Tori crossed in a brilliant ball and Kate got her head on the end of it to put us up 2-0. In this game we took a positive step offensively; our combination plays and decision making helped us keep the ball and continue to be a threat. Before the half ended, Kate Loye, who was on fire, struck a ball and netted her second and final goal of the match. We now know what we are capable of doing and what can bring success to our team. Overall, it was a successful weekend and just what we needed to get ready for the upcoming conference games.

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Sept. 13, 2013 - Kelsey Brouwer

WOW... This feeling is indescribable. Tonight, our team defeated the UT Vols 1-0. I had a good feeling with how our team was going to perform, beginning with our pregame meal and attitude in the locker room. I felt as though it was time for our team to come up with a big win and having a game against our in-state rivals was the perfect opportunity to establish our first win.

The atmosphere was one that any player would dream of playing in. We had so many of our amazing fans and alumni in attendance, we were blessed with perfect soccer weather and our team knew exactly what this game meant to our ENTIRE University.

The game came to a quick start with good momentum and within the first four minutes Emily Jorgenson put one in the back of the net with an assist from Amalie Anderdal. As a team, scoring first gave us confidence and allowed us to relax and play our game. But, the next 86 minutes or so would be the true test for our team. We battled hard in winning balls out of the air and working for each other. From my perspective as a goalkeeper, I felt that our backline was strong and communicated very well along with the rest of the team.

Overall, every player on and off the field had a huge role in this meaningful win. This win will gives us confidence for the games coming up and I am so excited for the future of this team! On behalf of the whole team, I would like to thank all of our supporters for PACKING THE HOUSE and helping us carry the lead for 86 minutes.

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Sept. 9, 2013 - Kate Loye

Saturday morning, sun is shining and although we are waking up from a loss against USF the night before, our focus has shifted to the toughest game that we will play to date, UCF. A smooth and quiet pool recovery helped us regenerate and loosen up the muscles.

At the end of the day, after hours of rest and relaxation we had our meeting to go over and analyse the UCF team. Aston has a great way of getting us hyped up for games. He shares stories from his time at MTSU, points out the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing team and make us leave the meeting with a winning mindset.

Game time! Sunday is a hot one in Florida and having a game at 12pm will challenge not only the physical aspects of our game but also our mental capabilities. Walking onto the field we know that we are the underdogs but we give UCF the respect they deserve, no too much and not too little. We want to make a statement and cause an upset!

We are playing in a 4-3-3 formation but instead of having two holding midfielders and an attacking midfielder, we are playing one holding and two attacking to counter for their skilful capabilities within the midfield.

The first half serves to be a very patient one on our behalf. We manage to hold them out of any threatening goal scoring chances and the best bit was that we were making them frustrated. By holding off pressing players in their first third, we let them play the ball in front of us and controlled the tempo of the game.

The half time talk was about remaining patient while defending but to pick up the quality of our passing when in possession. We were panicking too much when we finally got the ball from our hard work in defending and gave it away more often than not.

With the second half underway and the score being tied at 0-0, we now had a desire to play our game and get on the scoreboard. However, their combination plays found some holes in our defending lines and they scored twice in a matter of 10 minutes, we were down 2-0. Despite this, we kept fighting until the very end and managed to work a combination on the left which saw Tori Hawkins deliver a perfect cross to Rachel Fig who finished the ball with a lot of composure and style.

However, it was a little too late and the game ended at 2-1 to UCF. Putting this game into perspective, a 2-1 loss to the best team we have played yet, really isn't too bad. But we knew that we had the capability to win that game or at least get a draw out of it.

But onwards and upwards! We will learn from our mistakes and strive to continue the many positives that we got out of the match. Can't wait for the next match against UT!!!

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Sept. 7, 2013 - Ashley Roth

This week we decided to practice some new strategies during training in order to achieve two winning results this weekend against our Florida competitors. As most know, our team is very comfortable playing in a 4-3-3 system, but this week we decided to give the 4-4-2 formation a chance to give us more people in the attack and end our dry spell of scoring goals.

We trained through the obscurities, asked the right questions and almost have it down. Although against the University of South Florida on Friday night we stuck with the 4-3-3 in the beginning of the game. Throughout the game we had heaps of pressure and the first scoring opportunity in which the crossbar made a fantastic save against Kate Loye's rocket shot. Things were starting to look our way.

It wasn't until late in the half when a set back arose and USF had us chasing the game. Second half we came out strong and fought until the end whistle, but the final result was 1-0. As Coach Rhoden said "we let this game get away from us," but that will not be his words after Sunday's game. We are rested, ready, and motivated to overcome the biggest challenge we have this season with a victory.

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Sept. 2, 2013 - Autumn Woods

The Memphis game had finally arrived and we were ready to get this show on the road. The University of Memphis was by far the hardest opponent that we have faced so far this year. Now on the bright side they like to play just like us so it was a good match for us. Remembering that we had lost to them last year 3-2 gave us some extra fuel to kick off the match. 

Being from the Memphis area and coached by Brooks, this game meant an incredible amount to me. I had been waiting for this day for a long time! Surprisingly at the same time, even though we fell short of winning, we did accomplish a lot in this game. For one, we finally scored and we had been waiting for that moment for a while now. That goal seemed almost in slow motion to me and boy was it beautiful.

Now what we have to do is get ourselves in gear and just keep scoring. Scoring will win us games and losing games is not something that will be taken lightly. There is still a lot we need to tweak and things we need to build on, but knowing this team, we will grow with every single game and every single practice! Next comes a trip to Florida this weekend to play the University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida! We will take everything we can from this game and put it toward our next game!

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Aug. 30, 2013 - Amalie Anderal

After our opening away game against UT Martin last weekend, we were excited for our first regular season home game. Our new jerseys for the season were waiting for us in the locker room, white and blue striped. I felt an extra excitement as I was putting mine on and preparing for the game. We wanted to show our fans that the hard work we have put in the past months would pay off and also get ourselves a good start at home! 

The main focus during the past week of training had been to finish scoring opportunities during the game, getting people in the box and timing our runs. However, we have not had a goal this season so far, but once we get our first initial goal in a real game I am very confident to say they will flow in after.

We knew that their back line would allow us to get some good scoring opportunities if we played the way we wanted to and the way we know we can. We definitely had some very dangerous opportunities but got unlucky this match. However, our goal is to stay focused on the positives not the negatives so I know we will get there. In the end, all that really matters is enjoying what we are doing and we are definitely doing that. Now our focus is on our next opponent, we're excited to host Memphis tomorrow, and we hope to see you as well!

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Aug. 29, 2013 - Emily Jorgenson

Our first regular season game is done and out of the way. Although the game ended in a tie I am really proud of this team. We played so much better than we did in our two exhibition games. The first game is always a tough one because you can kind of see where the season is going to go. Obviously, we have a ton of things we need to work on but nothing a little time and practice can't fix.

Personally, I had a very fun trip just being with my team and being able to play with them as well. All the girls are so goofy its ridiculous. We played games and talked the whole bus ride so it flew by. After we arrived at the hotel, we had our pregame talk about the game the following day. Aston mentioned key players to watch on the UT Martin team as well as how we need to defend and attack to get the best result. Although we did not get the win, to be fair, this team is so new and so young it is just going to take some time. I am looking forward to how much we improve this week.

Our focus this week is finishing and not to be afraid to take chances. We have got plenty of girls on the team who have a killer shot it's just a matter of them taking those chances. Once we score our first goal I think the rest will just follow. So I expect some goals against Lipscomb this Friday.

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Aug. 15, 2013 - Tori Hawkins

I am so excited to play Belmont in our first game of the year! Belmont is one of our many in-state rivals and I cannot wait to show them what Middle Tennessee has brought to the plate this season. This is what everyone on the team has been waiting for, to get off the training field and into college soccer games. 

Our team has been working tirelessly since July. From running stadiums with Coach B, to fitness testing, to 7 a.m. practices, it all amounts to this first game. To finally get to show off all the hard work and commitment we have been putting in. In the little amount of practice time that has been allotted to us, we have been working on pressuring the ball defensively fast and strong in order to regain possession as quickly as possible. We learned that if one goes to press and nobody else does, we are doomed to run a lot more than we'd like. On the attacking end we have been focusing on movement off the ball and offering support to every ball played. MT soccer strives on being a possession oriented team so, as Aston often says, "letting the ball do the work," is a huge component of our game. 

Off the field we have also been working to find the perfect music for each of our walk-out songs. The walk-out songs are the music played when our names are called out at the beginning of every home game. Everyone wants that tidbit to be just perfect, so there have been some hard decisions. I personally chose "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons, but I am excited to hear everyone else's because they show off their personalities to the whole crowd in a way! So anyway on and off the field, we have really made some leaps and bounds with our very young team and I am excited to see it put to work Friday! 

Our team chemistry is starting to build, and hopefully we will take another step during this weekend of games! On a serious note, I hope we do well this weekend, for I turn 20 this Sunday and I really hate losing...especially on my birthday.

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