Ireland’s Lady Bisons need to find someone who can finish plays and put the ball in the net. Sunday afternoon the Lady Bisons (2-3-0) are back on the Lipscomb campus at 1 p.m. when they face Central Arkansas (3-3-0).
“All week long, for almost each entire practice, we have been going through a lot of crossing and shooting drills,” said Ireland. “We are doing anything we can in an effort for our players to gain some confidence.
“The more you do anything the better you are going to get as long as you are doing it right. We have tried to get them to really pay attention to the details this week. We want to make sure we have the right technique when we strike the ball. That’s all we can do at this point.”
Ironically, the best finisher on the team is Katie Wood, a freshman defender.
“We bring Katie up on set pieces and she is very dangerous,” said Ireland. “I have no doubt she is going to eventually score for us this year.”
Ireland is entering the Central Arkansas game with a cautious attitude in terms of his offense.
“It is hard to know what they are going to do until you get them in a game situation,” said Ireland. “You can practice all you want, but once you step over the line for a game there is pressure. Hopefully, we will come out and be able to finish and score.”
The Lady Bisons have not played since last Sunday when they fell 2-0 to Arkansas-Pine Bluff in a game played on the soccer practice field.
“We are all excited to be back on our regular field,” said Ireland. “We are fortunate to have a field like we have for practice, but it is not ideal for games.”
Central Arkansas, averaging 14.7 shots and 1.88 goals per game, was shut out 2-0 by Oral Roberts Friday night.
“Central Arkansas is off to a real good start,” said Ireland. “They have scored a lot of goals. They have several key players returning from last year’s team.
“It will be a real challenge. They have the ability to shoot from all over the field. That is something we have to be aware of. We have to make sure we put a lot of pressure on them.”
Ireland expects this to be the biggest challenge defensively for his young team, especially his two freshman goalkeepers, Erin Zerio and Ally Marler.
“Each team brings different challenges,” said Ireland. “We have to make sure Central Arkansas doesn’t get too much time on the ball. That is when they will be dangerous. They will tee it up and hit shots from 30 or 35 yards out.
“They can shoot the ball from anywhere. We can’t give them a lot of time and space.”
Ireland needed the week for preparation and practice for his team, but his players needed a few days off between games after starting the season at home followed by three straight road games. Every eligible player on the roster will be dressed and available for the Central Arkansas game, a first this season.
“We had to have this week,” said Ireland. “Since preseason we have been going and going. There has been the wear-and-tear and the fatigue from traveling.
“We have been able to get healed. All of our players, for the most part, are feeling good. Even the ones who have been out for a long time feel like they are ready to finally contribute and play big minutes.”