"I think the intensity level and the effort I have noticed in practice comes from the players and their desire to win," Henson said of this year's squad. "They are hungry to play against someone else right now."
That opportunity will come on Sunday, Aug. 25 when the Buccaneers travel to Gardner-Webb for a pre-season scrimmage. The Bucs will begin their regular season shortly thereafter on the road at Radford on Friday, Aug. 30.
Henson has only two seniors on this year's roster, but returns most of her team that set the school record for Southern Conference wins last season. ETSU has also brought in its largest recruiting class ever, adding a number of newcomers to the mix. According to Henson, there has already been some healthy competition among the group for starting jobs.
"We have more depth than we have ever had," said Henson. "We have a quality core group of returning players and now we can accent that with the new freshmen coming in."
Seniors Lena Summers (Johnson City, Tenn.) and Elizabeth Smith (Arden, N.C.) will provide the leadership for the team on and off the field as will junior goalkeeper Heather Sanden (Manassas, Va.). Sanden's 130 saves last season ranked her near the top of the NCAA Division I leaders. Playing for the Northern Virginia Majestics of the amateur W-League this summer, Sanden boasted a miniscule goals against average of 1.27.
Summers also spent the summer in the W-League and started more than half of the games for the Asheville Splash. Smith currently ranks third all-time for the Bucs in points and shots, and needs just two assists to become the school's career leader.
Freshman Erin Ashton (New Bern, N.C.) has enjoyed a productive pre-season and will look to make an immediate impression for the Bucs at the forward position.