Coming into a new season under a new head coach, the Marshall soccer team doesn't have wins and losses on their minds.
Their first goal is 10,000 touches.
"We're really just trying to touch the ball a lot the first week. Our goal is to get 10,000 touches on the ball in 10 days," said Marshall head coach Pat Johnson. "It sounds unrealistic, but we're on track to do it. We're doing two-a-days, a lot of contact with the ball, reinforcing basic stuff and building into some team play. It's going real well."
After a 2-8-1 season in 2011, the Tigers are looking to get back to the basics and build from the ground up.
"We are reinforcing every facet of the game and building from simple to complex in the team game," Johnson said. "The kids are really eager. They are doing a great job. We have some real good leadership on the team and we're looking forward to a good year."
Marshall returns several players with varsity experience, including two captains from a year ago. Trevor Johnson and Ethan Hart return as seniors, and are joined by Isac Evenson to form the tri-captains.
"All three are seniors," Johnson said. "All three of those guys, they're doing a great job.
"Those three captains are doing a really good job. They are providing leadership all the way down, bringing the JV along on some of their exercises. As a program, we are into it and its going great. We are really happy with the progress thus far."
The Tigers are also expecting a lot from the other seniors and juniors that saw time as sophomores.
"We have a number of kids with varsity experience from last year. A lot of our juniors this year played a lot of varsity time as sophomores last year, so we're expecting some good things from them," Johnson said. "Kids like Isaac Hart, Paul Citrowski, Megan Vogl, Josiah Hulsiezer, Clay Ogelsby. And we have a number of seniors that will definitely play roles.
"Claire Buysse, I've coached her for years and she's a good solid defender. We have a lot of kids back with varsity experience. We're looking forward to it. Drew Tykwinski is back as a defender. He's a good solid athlete. He has a great attitude and is a good hustler. We expect him to play a key role too."
Sathira Wijesekara will be back in goal for the Tigers, something Johnson is excited about.
"Sathira Wijesekara has quite a bit of time in at goalie. He's our number one goalie right now," Johnson said. "We expect some good things from him. He had a lot of time in goal at varsity level last year."
Even with the high amount of experience returning, Johnson knows that for his team to be successful, they have to get back to the basics and build up.
"For the most part we're going to focus on basic things. We're going to try to execute well, pass the ball well, possess the ball well and shoot the ball well," Johnson said. "We will focus on defense. We hope to really keep ourselves in the game by not giving up a lot of scoring chances.
"We've also tried to hone how to take advantage of the situations so we get good scoring chances, too. Soccer is a game where one or two plays can turn the outcome of the game," Johnson said. "We're really trying to focus on executing each play and each point of contact with the ball, whether that's passing, receiving, shooting, defending, whatever that is."
Marshall opens the 2012 season at 1 p.m. Saturday against St. Peter at Mattke Field.
In the end, the Tigers have one goal this season: to improve each game.
"We believe we can play on the level of everybody on our schedule," said Johnson. "It comes down to executing and how much improvement we show in our team play as the year progresses. We're on track to play better team ball and build through the season."