JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – After notching a club-record seven wins last summer, the Otters will return to TVA Credit Union Ballpark for a second-straight summer.

“It’s definitely exciting to be back, especially after the season we had last year,” second-year midfielder Agu Ortiz said.

Finishing with a record of 7-4-3 last season, the Otters just missed out on a postseason spot. But, head coach David Strickland was still pleased with a number of aspects of the 2021 club.

“Both in the fan support and the quality of our play – the amount of points we collected,” he said. “It’s really helped us building on this year.”

Tri-Cities has added some top-tier talent this season, scooping up four NCAA Division I soccer players and six more from the Division II ranks.

“I’ve been to boarding school and now in college getting to play with people all over the country,” goalkeeper Joshua Garvilla said, “but the level is definitely really intense here.”

Garvilla just finished his freshman season at Lees-McRae university, one of more than 25 institutions that the coaching staff has pulled from this year.

“This year we really are excited about the quality we have,” Strickland said.

The key in the early stages of this season has been helping the players build a chemistry on and off the pitch.

“Soccer is all about knowing your teammates and being able to communicate well with them, but it’s been really easy,” Garvilla said.

“We kind of know what works and what we should be looking for and we try to pass that on to the new guys or players who are coming from different colleges and universities and trying to basically mold that into the style of what the Otters is,” Ortiz explained.

Strickland hopes that his team can create one of the largest goal differentials on all of League Two this year.

“We want to be one of the top goal-scoring teams in the country out of all 90 teams,” he said. “We want to be one of those where we’re scoring goals left and right. On the flip side of that, we want to be the stingiest group as far as goals go.”

“Our goals haven’t changed – win it all and beat every team we can,” Garvilla said.

“I guess last year we broke some records for the team, so hopefully we can continue breaking more records and see how far the Otters can continue improving,” Ortiz added.

The Otters sit at 2-1-0 on the 2022 season after a thrilling comeback victory over East Atlanta on Saturday. The team will play its first home match on Wednesday, May 25 as they welcome NPSL rival Appalachian FC for the second leg of the OtterSquatch Cup. The match is set to begin at 7 p.m. at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.