BRANDY MAINE, STAFF WRITER
Another school year means another season for the Armstrong Pirates soccer and they have begun their preparation for the 2016 season. In 2015, the team had a good run with a record of 13-5-3 during the overall season and an appearance in the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament.
With a new season comes departures and the team graduated four players key to their past success as they said goodbye to Candace Cosby, Morgan Luckie, Taylor Valley and Taylor Russell, a two-time All American. These four ladies won a conference and a regional championship during their time here, an achievement no one on the current roster has been able to reach yet, but the future looks particularly bright for Armstrong.
The Peach Belt Conference has predicted the team to be the second best team of the upcoming season, though head coach Eric Faulconer is more concerned with the end result rather than the preseason selection.
“Our goal is to be on top at the end of the season,” the coach explained.
Senior Allison Litchfield talked about the team’s excitement for the upcoming season, which should see them compete for a conference title.
“We are very excited to tackle the new challenges that await us this season,” she said. “We have worked very hard to get to a top level before the season has even started and I believe that we are more than ready to see what we can do and how far we can go.”
With the some of the fresh talent being brought onto the field, that goal seems very achievable for this group of young women. There are several new additions to the team this year.
Two new players that already seem to stand out as key team members are freshman Ashley Lewis and Junior Mallary Hedden. Lewis, a forward, has already shown potential by scoring a goal in the team’s exhibition game against North Florida, while Hedden, a strong defender, transferred to Armstrong from Troy University last spring and has proven to be essential to the team’s defense already.
So far the team does not seem to have any kind of weak link, with a roster that is well rounded enough to play several different formations. This will allow the team to switch up their playing style if needed. That is a talent most teams are not privileged to have, giving these ladies a real upper hand on the field.
After just falling short of winning the NCAA tournament last year, the team is determined to prove that they now have enough experience to take the conference title for the first time since 2012.
Faulconer has stated that the slogan for this year’s 2016 campaign is, “Our Time,” proving these ladies will not be going down without a fight. This year, for the first time, the Pirates will be playing some home games at night, so come out and support this talented group of women under the bright lights.
The Pirates open the 2016 season with a pair of road games on Thursday, Sept. 1 at Embry-Riddle and Saturday, Sept. 3 at Florid Southern.