Lady Buffs aiming for AAC repeat in soccer


STAR STAFF


  The Milligan Lady Buffs soccer team looks to build on their success from last season, as some old faces and new recruits should make an immediate impact.
  The defending AAC champion, Milligan is picked to finish second behind Union, bringing some fire and inspiration to the team.
  "We're coming back into the season as the conference champions and regional semi-finalist," said Milligan coach Dave Dixon. "We are picked to finish second, which is a motivational since we're the defending champs.
  "Union lost more players than us, so we're coming in on one of those lack of respect things, which is OK. It really encourages them to work hard."
  Milligan has gotten honorable mention ranking, which places them right outside the top 25, but with the All-American returnees of Kim Morris and Jackie Goncalves, it has a chance of climbing the polls throughout the year.
  "Kim is senior and the type of player that is the catcher or point-guard on the team -- she's the one player that everything revolves around," Dixon said. "We play as well as she does. Jackie is a three-time All-Conference and two-time All-American, so I expect her too have a big year too."
  They're five new players on the Buff roster this season, and with the talent Milligan possess, it should translate into an overall team improvement.
  "We have five new players who are going to push for starting spots, and we're going to have a little more depth than what we had last year," said Dixon. "The overall talent pool is better, for we're more athletic."
  The speed of the Buffaloes will be a key, as so is the hard work ethic they have been displaying so far.
  "All of the big factors of the game technically, tactically, and fitness wise I believe we have all the ingredients to put it together," said Dixon. "I fully expect this to be a team challenging for the regionals with a chance to go to the nationals."
  The amount of goals being scored should escalate this season with all of the deciding factors in place.
  Milligan's speed on the field should create more breakaway opportunities, as early signs show the difference from last year to now.
  "This year I think we'll be a better attacking team. Last season we struggled in tight games and chances to create goals," said Dixon. "This year we have more dangerous players, and comparing fitness numbers to last season we have improved twice as much."
  Two freshmen that will be stepping in to add some spark are Bryndis Bgarnadottir and Dagmar Arnardottir, who both have international experience.
  "They are from Iceland and with those two coming in I expect them right away to be impact players," said Dixon. "They've both played for their country in four national team games in the Norwick Cup and European championship."
  Milligan will get its first test of the year against Tusculum this week on Thursday, as it will be some what of a measuring stick in trying to dethrone a nationally-ranked team.
  "It should be a really good game -- they are ranked in the top ten for (NCAA) Division II schools," said Dixon. "It'll be a good game for us, and we've had a couple of pre-season games already. We went to Germany for a week and a half where we played two games and did really well.
  "I think we're in good shape coming in, but it just a matter of whether or not we can put it all together in a real game."
  Schedule
  Aug.
  26--at Tusculum College, 4 p.m.; 31--at Montreat College (N.C.), 3:30 p.m.*
  Sept.
  3--at Martin Methodist College, 3:30 p.m.; 4--at Thomas, 1 p.m.; 8--VIRGINIA INTERMONT COLLEGE, 4 p.m.*; 11--at Geneva, 2 p.m.; 14--at Brevard College, 3 p.m.*; 18--COVENANT COLLEGE, 2 p.m.*; 22--at King College, 3 p.m.*; 25--at Cumberland College, 4 p.m.; 29--at Lees-McRae College (N.C.), 7 p.m.
  Oct.
  2--at Mt. Vernon Nazarene (Ohio), 1 p.m.; 6--BRYAN COLLEGE, 7 p.m.*; 9--at Tennessee Wesleyan College, 2 p.m.*; 12--at Southern Wesleyan University (S.C.), 7 p.m.; 16--HOUGHTON COLLEGE, 4 p.m.; 19--at Union College, 4 p.m.*; 23--CUMBERLAND COLLEGE, 4 p.m.; 26, 29-30--AAC Conference Tournament
  Nov.
  2--Region XII, TBA; 5-6--Region XII Tournament, TBA
  *Conference match