GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Following a 2007 campaign in which the Tusculum College women’s soccer team reached the NCAA Division II Tournament for a third consecutive season, head coach Mike Joy is looking forward to what could be one of the most memorable seasons in school history. The season gets underway this weekend as the Pioneers host the Tusculum Classic.
On Friday, the Classic begins at 5 p.m. as Mars Hill College takes on Mount Olive College at the TC Upper Soccer Field. The second match of the night will be played at Pioneer Field No. 11 Tusculum takes on Nova Southeastern University.
The Classic concludes with a pair of matches. At noon, Mars Hill will face Nova Southeastern on the Upper Field, followed by Tusculum and Mount Olive at 2 p.m. from Pioneer Field.
The Pioneers welcome three All-South Atlantic Conference performers back into the fold for the 2008 campaign, as first-team selections Nicole Ferris, Danielle Tanner, and Courtney Turner return to lead a talented Pioneer club that retains eight of its 11 starters from a year ago.
Last season’s Tusculum club began the season by winning three of its first four matches before falling to eventual NCAA Division II national champion Tampa. The Pioneers responded with a three-match winning streak, giving them the momentum to win 12 of their remaining 17 matches, and finish the season with a 15-7 record and a share of fourth place in the league.
Joy, who returns for his 12th season at the helm for the Pioneers, returns a wealth of talent, and coupled with a rich recruiting class, is poised for a run at a fourth consecutive berth in the NCAA Tournament. In addition to Ferris and Tanner, seniors Kelly Barron, Heather Craft, and Tara Bryant, return to lead a squad of talented newcomers, including seven freshmen and 10 sophomores.
Returning seniors Barron and Tanner headline a deep and gifted group of athletes up front for Tusculum this season, having combined for 26 of the Pioneers’ 44 goals last season. Joining Barron and Tanner in the starting 11 up front is Ashley Bradford, a native of London, Ky. who missed last year due to injury.
Tanner, a native of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, enters her second season with Tusculum after posting a team-high 21 goals and 47 points a season ago, earning first team All-SAC and All-Southeast region selections as well as a spot on the All-SAC Tournament team. The 5-7 forward is also a member of the Preseason All-SAC First Team.
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Barron finished tied for second on the team with five goals while posting 14 points, good for third on the squad. The 5-0 forward will form the third leg of an offensive trio with Tanner and Bradford that will likely account for the majority of the team’s scoring in 2008.
The front line trio will be joined by returning forward Chelcey Flennikenin in addition to a pair of talented newcomers in junior transfer Rachelle Luster and junior Holli Cadenhead, a native of Van Vleck, Texas who has also played for Tusculum’s softball and volleyball programs.
Flenniken, a native of Sevierville, Tenn., played in seven matches a season ago and is expected to compete for playing time off the bench this season.
Luster, a native of Lenexa, Kan., joins the Pioneers as a transfer from Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kan. where she was a two-time NSCAA and NJCAA All-American, setting school record