Tiffany Huddleston, right, is one of the returning players for Starkville Academy's soccer team this season. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
The Starkville Academy Lady Volunteers have an experienced soccer team coming back this season.
Starkville Academy soccer coach Robert Gardner has eight of 11 starters returning which helps in the chemistry of what's happening on the field and he likes the way preseason workouts have been going.
"We've been very good in training the past two weeks and points to a good and positive thing," Gardner said. "Things are looking up for us and I'm certainly optimistic about this week."
The Lady Vols open the season against Lamar School in Meridian today, then travel to Jackson Academy Thursday.
After finishing with an 8-6 record and reaching the playoffs last season, Gardner said it's important for SA to have better results, but won't look to far ahead.
The Lady Vols focused on having a good practice Monday, putting forth a good effort at Lamar School today, improving in practice Wednesday, and challenging Jackson Academy on Thursday.
"We'll take it one step at a time as we should," Gardner said. "We've got a good platform for a preseason and treating it as what we need to take the next step with the next step being the regular season. We're looking forward to being able to progress with that. That's the important thing."
Senior and Mississippi State commitment Tiffany Huddleston leads the group of veteran SA players, but Gardner is anxious to see how some of the younger players perform.
"We do have plenty of players in different positions that will give us strength," Gardner said. "We do have younger players that will be a year older and will be stepping into positions to benefit the squad. I will be more of a teacher with the younger players and may be a manager with the older players just because I'm more familiar with their strengths and weaknesses. I'm just trying to teach the younger players the way I want them to play."
Having better possession of the soccer ball has been the main point of concentration for the Lady Vols in preseason training.
Gardner believes perfecting that skill will go a long way for SA having a successful season.
"In training, it looks very good and we're going to see how that translates into the bigger areas which will be the game field we're playing on," Gardner said.
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