Photo by Brent Beerends / MT Athletic Communications
Story by Timothy Carroll / Sports Reporter
The college soccer season is well underway and for the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, they have some pretty competitive games. Though they haven’t been on the winning side of the field yet, freshman Peyton DePriest has been nothing short of phenomenal on the field. In her first three games, she’s scored two goals and looked comfortable early in her college career.
DePriest came to Middle Tennessee with one of the more impressive high school profiles in the country. Not only was she both a Tennessee and Gatorade Player of the Year candidate, but she was also a key member of the Tennessee U18 team that won a national championship in 2016.
While the transition to the college game can be intimidating, DePriest credits her team with easing the step up to a more competitive level.
“The first time we played wasn’t at home, and it was against Alabama so it was even more nerve-racking,” DePriest said. “It was easy because the girls are really nice and they motivate you (to be better).”
While she has shown a lot of potential through two games, she has also shown more of a team-first mentality in her approach. The team has fallen in two late contests, including a double overtime loss at home to Austin Peay. DePriest believes that the improvement she needs to focus on is her communication on the field.
“I can be better at communicating at where I want the ball on the field, and learning my teammates and where they want the ball to be,” DePriest said.
Head coach Aston Rhoden is full of praise for the improvements that he has seen on his team in their first two games. Despite being on the wrong side of both contests, he can see the team making strides and knows that it will result in wins.
“We’re certainly getting better with every game, which is what we want,” Rhoden said. “Right now, the results are not indicative of the way we’ve improved on the field.”
The team certainly showed improvements on Sunday and seemed to be attacking the ball more aggressively and seemed much more comfortable as a cohesive unit.
On DePriest, Coach Rhoden was equally positive about the work he has seen her put in on the field. He also knows that if she continues to improve, she could be force in Middle Tennessee for years to come.
“Peyton is a strong player, and we knew coming in that she would have a positive impact and a chance at fulfilling what everyone knows she is capable of,” Rhoden said.
The Blue Raiders will be back in action on Friday, August 25, when they will travel to Jacksonville, Alabama, to face the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. The game is set to begin at 7 p.m.
For more Soccer stories, follow Timothy Carroll (@TimCarroll95) on Twitter