Lady Flames Soccer Team Opens Season In Florida
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Never one to go searching for easy early-season victories, coach Matt Yelton will take his Lee women's soccer team into the south Florida region to begin the regular season at Lynn University (Boca Raton) and Barry University (Miami Shores).
After finishing 14-4-2 in their first season against Gulf South Conference (GSC) and NCAA Division II opponents, the Lady Flames will test Lynn on Friday at 7 p.m. The Sunshine State Conference (SSC) foe will be playing at the newly constructed Bobby Campbell Stadium and Lynn will be playing under lights at home for the first time during a home match..
Lee will take Saturday off and travel on down to Miami Shores on Sunday to challenge a tradition-rich Barry squad that is ranked third-nationally in one of the NCAA D2 polls. Barry captured D2 national crowns in 1989, 1991 and 1993. Overall the elite program has a record of 355-123-31.
"In the 13 years I've been at Lee, we have never played these teams," said Yelton, who directed his Lady Flames to a record-setting four consecutive NAIA national titles before moving to NCAA play. "This will definitely be a learning experience for us.
"Going on the road early in the season will be an important part of the maturation process for our team," he added. "Lynn and Barry have both historically been some of the top Division II programs and we are looking forward to the challenge of the games."
After an impressive scrimmage against Georgia College this past weekend, Yelton said he is really pleased with how the team has responded at this point. "We are a young team and we don't have a lot of experience on the squad, but we do have a group of players that are working hard to get better and improve their game.
"It is still very early and while we have played and performed well to this point, it is only a start. If we don't continue to work hard, we won't improve, and with our schedule and the set of challenges in front of us, we just need to stay committed to getting better on a daily basis."
Heading into the Florida games, the staff reports a few minor knocks, but nothing major that should hold anybody out that wasn't already injured coming into preseason.
Yelton feels the keys to victories during the early going are simple: "We have really been focusing on being a very organized team and trying to play to our strengths. If there is one area of the field that we do have experience returning, that would be in our back four and our goalkeeper, so those individuals need to have a good showings for us to come away from the weekend on a good note.
"I also believe that we need to have an up tempo and hard-working mentality. Playing in Florida at this time of year is never easy and the heat and humidity will sap the energy out of a lot of teams—hopefully we can approach the job with the right attitude and not let the weather be a factor.
"For me, it's really more about seeing us realize the things we have worked on in preseason will pay off, and see where we are at in an actual game now. If we come away from the weekend with a couple of good showings that would be great, but I'm really more concerned about the process of this team maturing and becoming a better team over the course of the year."
The Lady Flames departed by bus early Thursday morning and hope to make it down to Florida by Thursday evening. Friday's game will feature live streaming and can be located at LynnFightingKnights.com.
Coach Yelton's team will return to Cleveland and prepare for the home opener against the University of Findlay (Ohio) one week from Friday (7 p.m.) It will mark the annual Kickin' It For Kids With Cancer fundraiser.