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The University of Evansville women’s soccer team hosts UT Martin tonight at 7 p.m. at Arad McCutcheon Stadium. After dropping last weekend’s regular-season opener, 1-0, to Murray State, the Aces rebounded with a 2-1 win over Tennessee Tech.

The visiting Skyhawks kicked off their season with a 1-0 loss to Oklahoma State before playing to a scoreless draw against Middle Tennessee State. UT Martin was tabbed as preseason favorites to repeat as Ohio Valley Conference champions, returning seven full-time starters from last season’s championship team.

The Skyhawks are led by goalkeeper Mariah Klenke, who set a single-season record for wins with 12 last season, and midfielder Hannah McGowen leads their attack.

Evansville is led by sophomore Abby Springer and senior Stephanie Thompson on offense and is backed up by a staunch defense that let up just

I talked with head coach Krista McKendree and junior defenseman Taylor Brand about their opening weekend and tonight’s game against UT Martin.

Q: What kind of lessons did you take away from last weekend’s matches and how did you addressing them in practice this week?

MCKENDREE: “I think we definitely did a much better job on Sunday of keeping possession of the ball. We connected over 300 passes, which is pretty good. Our speed of play was pretty good and we didn’t allow the other team to have the ball much. We still gave up a soft goal on Sunday, and that’s still a point of concern for us — not giving up easy goals — but overall, we’ve got some confidence in the fact that we can score. Our attacking play looked much better on Sunday.”

BRAND: “I think the main thing that we really need to focus on is putting two good halves together. Recently, we’ve played one good half, and the second half has been a letdown. I think it’s mental, thinking about the whole game, you can’t have mental lapses, especially, If it’s something small — the corner kick, we let a goal in, and we played better than them the whole half. It’s just mental lapses.”

Q: How are you looking for the offense to step up this week?

MCKENDREE: “We have dynamic attacking players. We just have to get to a page where all of them are dynamic on the same day. Right now, we have bits and pieces of that showing, (so) we just have to get to a position where more of our chances are much more dangerous.”

Q: On the defensive end, how do you put together a solid 90 minutes?

BRAND: “We have two new people playing on the back line with us, and so it’s just continuing to work on our organization, keeping our shape a little bit better. Just cleaning it up. If we don’t we have some problems.”

Q: What’s the main goal for Friday’s match?

MCKENDREE: “Obviously to try to get a result on Friday, a win being the expectation. But most importantly, it’s just doing something a little bit better than what we did on Sunday. So for us, limiting defensive opportunities is going to be key for us to be able to be successful.”

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