Soccer Completes First Day Of Training Camp

ATHENS, Ga. – University of Georgia head soccer coach Patrick Baker led his first Bulldog squad through its initial day of training camp Wednesday.

Baker wasted no time as he gathered his team for a 7:00 a.m. fitness test, the first of three workout sessions for the 30 players invited to camp. The first day of three-a-days continued at 9:30 a.m. with a possession-oriented practice session. After a midday break, the squad wrapped up its first day with a 5:00 p.m. scrimmage, as the senior/junior team downed the sophomore/freshman squad by a score of 2-1.

"All in all it was a good first day," said Baker. "There were periods where people may have tired at certain positions, but that was mostly due to our numbers at those positions. That said, we certainly had some good combinations and some good sequences. There were some jitters out there, but that is expected. Everyone wants to impress. It got a little sloppy at times, but even that seemed positive because there was a lot of energy. At times the pace may have gotten stretched but it wasn't for a lack of trying. All of the breakdowns are very coachable things. Day 1 is always just a starting point. We have a lot to work on during these next few weeks of the preseason."

At the morning fitness session the team was asked to run seven and half laps around the track in 12 minutes or less, an exercise known as a Cooper test.

"We had some very impressive morning performances," said Baker. "Sarah Darvill crushed it and Randi-Lynn Bruso did very well also. There were several players that made it or were very close. That really makes a statement about their hard work over the summer. I was very pleased with where the middle of the pack stood as well."

During the second portion of the day, a few other players seemed to stand out during the possession-oriented practice.

"We had some exciting combinations from a lot of different players, both newcomers and returners," said Baker. "Kelly Whitaker made an impact going forward and Cortni Joyner was very dynamic as well. Bruso, Kathleen Howe, Catherine Bruce and Sarah Brown all did some good things and made some good decisions during the session. Lauren Church made a number of saves in goal and Alyssa Dragutsky did well for herself in the net also."

The evening scrimmage saw the seniors and juniors team up in white to take on the sophomore and freshman classes in red. Bruso and Amber Tacke each tallied a score for the upperclassmen, while freshman Kasey Kaspar hit the back of the net for the underclassmen. Kaspar nearly added another towards the end of the game as well.

"The youngsters did very well," said Baker. "Kristin Garman showed tremendous speed and athleticism and Megan Tomlinson did very well also. Of course Kaspar showed something by scoring and then almost doing it again."

The coaching staff got some more good news when sophomores Kendra Auston and Joni Vickers were able to participate in the scrimmage after not being able to train in the morning.

"It is very encouraging to see Kendra out there," said Baker. "She was hurt most of last year, but she came back and took care of herself over the summer, and now she is back physically healthy and she seems to feel good. Her fitness level is not quite where it should be, but that is something we will work on. Now we just have to be smart about things. We want players to play their way on to the team. That puts more of a priority on the evening scrimmage sessions because we can really see how these players compete, even though they may not be physically able to complete some other parts of the morning training yet."

Assistant coach Rob Thompson, responsible for the goalkeepers' training, also viewed the first day as a positive one.

"Overall I am pretty pleased with them," said Thompson. "Beth Klueter did well considering that she is coming off of surgery, and she is working hard on her fitness level. She is not as sharp as she would like to be, as she has not seen the ball over the last 2-3 weeks. But she will be fine."

"Church did very well today," continued Thompson. "She has played 11 games in the W-league with the Northern Virginia team and she has also been traveling around working at different goalkeeper camps, so she came in already in very good shape. Her fitness level is excellent and it showed at the Cooper. She distributed the ball very well in practice and her timing overall was pretty good."

"Dragutsky has done alright," said Thompson. "It is a huge step for her, as this is the highest level that she has ever played at. It will take time for her to get used to the pace of the game and the speed of the ball."

Other noteworthy information from the first day of camp is that senior Ali Williams will be moving from a defensive back position and will play forward for the Bulldogs.

"Ali played up top in high school and during her first year at Georgia," said Baker. "She has had a successful career since then as a back and she may see some time there this season as well. We feel that as a forward, she brings a lot of good attributes in the attacking third of the field. She is good with the ball and moves well without the ball. With time and training, I think she will have good success up top as well."

Training camp will continue with three-a-days through Friday, following a very similar schedule as that from Wednesday. Each day will begin with a different 7:00 a.m. fitness test, followed by a team breakfast, then a 9:30 a.m. training session. The team will then eat lunch at the soccer complex before taking an afternoon break until approximately 5:00 p.m., when the players return for the evening training session. While the morning training will be of a technical nature, each evening session will be composed of some type of scrimmage, followed by a team dinner.

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