By DANNY P. SMITH
The Starkville Academy Lady Volunteers learned on Tuesday that they would not be opening the soccer season at Washington School as scheduled today.
Starkville Academy soccer coach Robert Gardner doesn't count that as a huge disappointment.
Even though he believes the Lady Vols are improving, Gardner said there's still some work to be done before they open on the road with a division match against Presbyterian Christian on Aug. 16.
"We've got to iron some things out," Gardner said. "Defensively, we've got to tighten up a ton. That's something I'm noticing. We're definitely struggling defensively right now. We've got some days before we have to worry about that."
Starkville Academy has been working out in the heat for the last week or so and Gardner knows it has been a grind for the girls.
"It's been a big challenge for us," Gardner said. "Obviously, early in the season, we are not going to be at our very best. In the first week or week and a half by no means was it our best soccer in training, the fact is it's slow improvement, but it is improvement. I do take out of it that we are improving and seem to be getting better in my opinion. (Monday) afternoon was probably our best session we've had."
The Lady Vols have a roster filled with experienced players, including Tiffany Huddleston who has already given a verbal commitment to play soccer at Mississippi State.
Gardner can tell things have been running a little more smoothly in the preseason for his second season at SA.
"In coaching high school kids, things are going to vary from day to day and week to week as far as practice goes," Gardner said. "I think consistently they don't take steps back. They show up for training and they know I'm going to be ready to work and they need to be in that same mode and mindset as well.
"They are used to me and know what to expect. I feel like we can take steps in the right direction."