BATON ROUGE - As the LSU Soccer team prepares to kick off the 2012-13 athletic season with a trip to Norman, Okla., to face the Oklahoma Sooners on Aug. 20, head coach Brian Lee and his coaching staff welcomed 23 student-athletes to campus Thursday as they prepare to open preseason training camp.
Training camp begins Friday morning at the LSU Soccer Stadium as the Tigers are just 18 days from their season opener at Oklahoma as a part of Monday Night Futbol on Aug. 20.
The Tigers will then open their home slate on Friday, Aug. 24, with a contest against the Rice Owls slated to kick off at 7 p.m. at the LSU Soccer Stadium in Baton Rouge.
LSU's 2012 home schedule features eight matches against teams that earned an NCAA Tournament berth a year ago, including Stephen F. Austin (Aug. 31), Florida International (Sept. 7), Memphis (Sept. 10), Texas A&M (Sept. 14), Alabama (Sept. 16), Auburn (Sept. 21), Kentucky (Sept. 23) and Florida (Oct. 5).
"We're ready to continue our preparation for the fall season. Oklahoma will provide us with a very strong challenge right out of the gate," Lee said. "Our players have done an outstanding job during the offseason in preparing themselves for this day. We're excited about getting back on the field for the first time in this preseason camp to continue preparing for our opener in just a couple of weeks.
"We've got some experience coming back to the team this fall, but there is an opportunity for many of the players to assert themselves and fill some of the holes left by our senior class after last year."
While the Tigers welcome the return of 10 upperclassmen that will provide the leadership and foundation of another strong squad, the club is also anxious for the talented recruiting class of six incoming freshmen to take to the pitch together for the first time after ranking among the NCAA's Top 10 in the spring.
Canadian international Jade Kovacevic is the only recruit to will join the team after the start of the regular season as she represents her country at the 2012 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup.
As part of Thursday's reporting, LSU's freshman class spent the morning moving in with their teammates at West Campus Apartments. The team then convened for the afternoon for a series of preseason meetings with members of the compliance office, academic center and training room.
The Tigers are scheduled for two training sessions on Friday as they will first gather for a fitness test with Lee and his staff in the morning before their first full practice session together at 6 p.m. CT. Each training session during preseason camp will be held at the LSU Soccer Stadium.