Union men’s soccer eyes improved results

Published 1:07 pm Friday, August 23, 2019

BARBOURVILLE — The Union College men’s soccer team looks toward their 2019 season with many new faces and a lot of strong returners who are ready to battle for a spot in the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC).

The Bulldogs are coming off an 8-8-2 overall record and a 5-5 mark in the conference.

Head coach Jonathan Shaw is looking to take the players further this season as he is thrilled about the new additions he added to the squad this season. “We’ve added several young new players to this year, which will add to our experienced veterans on the turf,” said Shaw.

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“This season is all up to the players,” the Bulldog coach said. “We will go as far as the boys want to go. They just have to work hard all season, and do all the little things right. Last season, we struggled a little bit defensively but this year that shouldn’t be the case as we brought in a whole new backline that will hopefully boost our defensive ability.”

Union tabbed is picked to finish fifth in the AAC. Reinhard University (Ga.) is the favorite, while Tennessee Wesleyan University and Point University (Ga.) tied for second. Bryan College (Tenn.) checked in fourth. Point won the regular-season championship in 2018, however, Reinhardt captured the tournament title.

The 5-5 conference record put the Bulldogs fifth in the standings last season. Yet, Union fell in the quarterfinal round of the tournament.

Shaw is confident the team can improve on last season’s performance, although he admits the road will not be easy.

“We have done well during the preseason and it looks to be a promising year,” Shaw added. “We should be able to compete with everyone in our conference, but we do have a tough start of the season facing four teams that were mentioned in NAIA Top 25 Coaches’ Poll. This difficult round of games will hopefully prepare our players for the rest of the season, especially when we get toward the end facing more conference opponents.”

Union opens the season on Saturday when Midway University (Ky.) visits Williamson Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

“It’s a promising year for the Bulldogs,” concludes Shaw. “We have a ton of potential and I’m excited to see what our future holds and where we end up at the end of the year.”