Clarksville, Ark.-The men's soccer team kicks off their season this weekend playing Millsaps College and Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee at Rhodes College.
The Eagles will take on Millsaps College on Saturday at 1 p.m. and Rhodes College on Sunday at 3 p.m. Both teams are members of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference and have traditionally been strong programs in the past. "We played fairly well against Rhodes three seasons ago," said Aaron Coats, the team’s top defender. "We are expecting to be competitive with both teams. We have made some progress in the preseason and each player is getting a grasp of what they should be doing on the field. These games will be a good challenge for us." The Eagles are coming off their best season in school history, setting numerous conference marks and ending the year with an 18-3-1 record. The Eagles, however, must replace five starters and will need several freshmen to step into major roles. "Talent-wise, we have the opportunity to be better than we were last year," said Coats. "Our new thirteen freshmen make up a very good class. There is a lot of raw talent within the team." Head coach Dave De Hart believes his squad is in for a real test going against two teams from the soccer-rich SCAC. "Both of these matches will be really good tests for us," said De Hart. "From top to bottom they are in a stronger conference than we are at this point. But I think we could play with those teams and we have in the past." After weeks of conditioning and training, DeHart feels there are still unanswered questions going into the weekend matches. "We’ve done everything we know to do to be ready for the weekend," said De Hart. "We have a lot of unanswered questions, due to the amount of freshmen and new starters combined with several injuries which occurred in the preseason. I think we will go through some growing pains in the first few matches of the year." Following the weekend matches at Rhodes, the Eagles will play Hendrix College at home on September 4.