APSU Sports Information
Clarksville, TN – Austin Peay State University women’s soccer team officially opens its season with a pair of matches, the first of at home against Middle Tennessee, 7:00pm, Friday, and then going on the road to take on Evansville, 5:00pm, Sunday.
The home opener against MTSU marks the first official match in charge for Governors head coach Naomi Kolarova , who took over the program last winter after former head coach Kelley Guth left the post.
“Preseason has been long and tough on the players, as it always is,” said Kolarova. “They have worked hard though, responded positively as a whole, and are learning to play the style of soccer we want them to.”
The Govs have had mixed results in their three exhibition matches in Kolarova’s first fall season as head coach, starting with a tough, well-fought 1-1 draw against Western Kentucky. The Govs then went on the road and defeated Mississippi Valley 4-1, before slipping up against West Alabama in the final preseason tune-up by a score of 2-1.
“With three exhibition games, every healthy player was able to get minutes each game,” Kolarova said. “We wanted those live game situations early, to see strengths and weaknesses in individuals, as well as team tendencies. As a result, we have recognized a lot of good things in our play, as well as identifying many areas needing work.”
Coming into the season, a huge question mark was who would replace the offensive production of Kirstin Robertson . If the exhibition matches were any indication, senior McKenzie Dixon  and sophomore Claire Larose  look ready for the challenge. Dixon, who scored twice against Mississippi Valley, has shown she can be a proven goalscorer, with both her feet and her head.
The former first team All-Ohio Valley Conference honoree currently ranks eighth on the all-time list for goals scored in program history and she could be even be higher if not for a couple of injuries. She is also only one of five players in program history to notch a hat-trick.
Larose is a pacey, physical attacking player who can take players on and create chances out of seemingly nothing. She routinely got into dangerous positions against Western Kentucky and scored Austin Peay’s first goal against Mississippi Valley. The Canadian played in every game in her debut season last fall for the Govs, ranking second in shots and third in goals scored.
Across the backline, center back Renee Semaan  and goalkeeper Mary Parker Powell  have also started every exhibition for the Govs, as the pair look to instill some familiarity between them and the other players who will start in the defense.
Middle Tennessee was recently picked eighth out of 14 teams in the Conference USA preseason poll, but boast the C-USA Preseason Offensive Player of the Year in sophomore forward Peyton DePriest. The Blue Raiders have also been busy in preseason, playing two exhibition matches, losing to Northern Kentucky and defeating NAIA member Martin Methodist.
The Govs have only beaten the Blue Raiders once in five all-time meetings, but that win came last year in double overtime courtesy of a goal from Dixon off a Semaan cross.
Evansville was recently picked seventh out of eight teams in the Missouri Valley, but have beaten the Govs in five out of six all-time meetings. However, like against Middle Tennessee, the Govs won the most recent meeting, a 2-0 victory in 2016. Evansville has played two OVC opponents for its preseason, falling to SIU Edwardsville, but defeating Eastern Illinois.
“This opening weekend is going to be a good test,” said Kolarova. “Both teams we play have standout players we need to identify and take care of defensively. We are just anxious to get going and see what the season brings. We have a lot of work to do this year to take the program in the direction we want to go, but we feel good about the attitude of the players and know they will fight every game to be successful.”