Soccer ready for season



By Brandon Thomas

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The UK men’s soccer team has its eyes on the prize.

After finishing a series of preseason exhibition matches, UK moves toward the regular season with their eyes set on a Conference USA championship and a bid at the national championship.

Solid overall performances in all three of the exhibition games leave the team with anticipation for the upcoming season. But the Cats will need to have on-field leadership from the veteran guys to step up and help out along the ride.

“The fans are definitely going to enjoy watching this group of athletes,” UK head coach Ian Collins said. “They have been working hard all summer and it will show his season. They have a real belief in their ability. I like what we have here.”

The men’s soccer team will have plenty of upper class leadership on the team as it begins this season. The Cats have a host of seniors and juniors on the roster for the upcoming soccer season as well as many sophomores who have game experience from last year.  Defenseman and captain Brad Walker brings experience and leadership to the team for 2010 after starting every game last season.

The Cats will also look toward their new keeper Tyler Beadle to help bring intensity to the team after losing four-year starter Dan Williams last season.  Beadle has big shoes to fill following in behind Williams, a third-team All-Conference USA player who held a 0.81 goals-against average.

“For us, it’s not so much of a rebuilding process as a group of new players,” Collins said. “We’ll certainly miss those guys. But it’s time to move on. We have to move forward.”

But the Cats seem to be confident in the young Beadle as he has gotten the starting nod in all three exhibition games and done well holding his own against the competition. Beadle’s success this year between the posts will be one of the many keys to the Cats upcoming season.

“Tyler is good, but we were expecting that,” Collins said. “He was able to learn the position last year. We have high hopes for him and expect him to only get better and better.”

As the conference season approaches, the team begins to understand where it is at now as a team as well as where it needs to be by the end of the season to compete in the conference tournament.

The Cats feel good about their standing at this point in the season, but understand that as the season continues, it is a growing process. UK handled its competition presenting no major hang-ups in the exhibition games. The Cats were able to get younger players game experience as well as allowing the veterans to get back into the swing of things.

“The best part of the games were our ability to provide playing time for so many players,” Collins said. “The preseason is always about finding the identities of the players on your team and seeing who works well together. We obviously try to treat those games like regular season matches as much we can. I was impressed with the team’s fitness level and commitment.”

Development takes time, effort and energy – it’s a process of months of hard work and determination. UK and Collins appreciate these challenges.

“There are certainly some things we need to work on,” he said. “But there are some signs there that great things could happen.