The East Tennessee State women’s soccer team is rolling right along this fall, and so is Ramey Kerns.
The junior forward from Kings Mountain, N.C., leads all Atlantic Sun Conference players in goals, with nine. She has at least one in the last six matches and has twice been named conference player of the week.
“I’ve been very surprised by how many goals I’ve gotten,” Kerns said Wednesday, “but the team has really put me in good positions.”
Kerns is already just three goals shy of ETSU’s single-season record of 12, set by Erin Ashton as a freshman in 2002. She has matched the total from her first two seasons combined – six as a freshman and three as a sophomore – and that includes a hat trick in a 3-2 victory over Western Carolina here last week. And the conference schedule hasn’t even begun.
A position change this season has altered Kerns’ possibilities, and those of her team. The Lady Bucs are off to a 6-1 start.
“Last season I was an outside midfielder. Now I’m a center striker,” she said. “I was an outside mid throughout middle school and then became a big scorer as a forward in high school, so I’m used to the responsibilities. I’m comfortable there.”
Kerns has flourished in coach Adam Sayers’ system. It also helps to have a new midfielder around like Sarah Zadrazil.
The freshman from Austria is tied for the national lead in assists, with seven. Kerns has cashed in the majority of those.
“Sarah is able to win the ball in the midfield and get it to me in the perfect spots,” said Kerns. “It’s great to have her on the team.”
Sayers, in his second season as head coach, isn’t surprised by Kerns’ ability to consistently find the net.
“She has always shown great ability since I arrived,” he said. “It was just a case of finding a system and style of play that suits her.
“Ramey is very clinical in and around the 18-yard box; the majority of her goals come from alertness and movement in that area. And she has a very powerful shot.”
The Lady Bucs’ only blemish this season was a 7-1 blowout at Middle Tennessee State that came after a 4-0 start that matched the best in program history.
The Lady Bucs put the loss behind them with a pair of home victories – 3-2 over Western Carolina and 4-2 over Winthrop. They’ll finish the pre-conference schedule Friday at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., and then open A-Sun play here next Friday against Stetson.
Sayers doesn’t put much stock in the setback in Murfreesboro. He doesn’t want it to be forgotten either.
“In my mind, it was really just an aberration,” he said. “All the credit to MTSU; they played very well on that day and we didn’t. What we were preaching after that was that we have an opportunity to bounce back and respond in a positive way. That’s what you have to do in sport, and life essentially.”
The first big test in the Atlantic Sun is coming soon. ETSU and Florida Gulf Coast will meet next Sunday at Summers-Taylor Stadium.
The Lady Eagles are 5-1-1 and were the preseason pick to win the league.
n The men’s golf team swings into action for the first time this fall this weekend at the Tar Heel Intercollegiate in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Coach Fred Warren is taking a very young group – two sophomores and three freshmen – but has a good feeling about the start of his 27th year at ETSU.
“This is a good group. We’ll be better this year,” Warren said Wednesday. “The last two or three years have been a little disappointing.w I think the chemistry is better, the attitude. I look forward to starting a new season.”
ETSU’s international roster is headlined by Rhys Pugh, a sophomore from Wales who recently won the European Amateur. He shot 64 in qualifying Tuesday at Blackthorn Club.
Scott Gibson of Scotland is the team’s other sophomore. The freshmen include Chris Hickman of Centreville, Md., Adrian Meronk of Poland and Gudmundur Kristjansson of Iceland.
The Tar Heel Intercollegiate is a two-day tournament — 36 holes on Saturday, 18 on Sunday – at the UNC Finley Golf Course. The field includes several North Carolina schools, along with Notre Dame and Maryland.
After playing 12 matches on the road in the first 15 days of the volleyball season, the Bucs were feeling a bit sluggish. Three straight losses at the Bama Bash in Tuscaloosa last weekend didn’t help either.
But the Bucs got back on the winning track Tuesday night in Brooks Gym with a 3-0 victory over Western Caorlina. They now stand at 9-5 and have a week to rest before opening conference play at Mercer.
“Overall I’m pretty pleased with how we’re playing,” coach Lindsey Devine said Wednesday. “We hit a little bit of an obstacle last weekend, but we have to keep in mind how many matches we’ve played lately. We were a little tired.
“It was great to come back to Brooks in front of a home crowd and turn things around. I saw a lot of evidence that we’ve learned from what we’ve been through.”
Devine has been keeping half an eye on the A-Sun standings. Northern Kentucky, the newcomer in the league, is currently 9-1, followed by Kennesaw State (8-3) and ETSU. No one has played a league game yet.
“Everybody’s schedule is different, so it’s hard to tell where these teams are right now,” said Devine. “NKU is at the top of the league, but they’ve just moved up from Division II. Championship contenders like Lipscomb have scheduled hard matches, like we’ve done, so the records don’t really matter much right now.”