Thursday, August 2, 2007
MA soccer begins season August 9 vs. Lady Chiefs
By BARRY BURLESON
Marshall Academy soccer kicks off just its third season ever next week and it will do so on a new field.
“This program is still very young and I am very much still learning as a coach, but we have made some great strides,” said Catherine Mirante, who is starting her second year as head coach.
The Lady Patriots host Magnolia Heights Thursday, Aug. 9, at 4 p.m. The field is located to the left, beyond the playground, as drivers enter the campus in Holly Springs. It is adjacent to the softball field.
“We are all so thankful for all of the time, money and hard work that was put into building this new soccer field for us,” she said. “Because of the efforts of so many, we’ll be able to play on a beautiful, regulation-size field this year. We are certainly proud of it.”
MA will start the season with 21 players on the active roster. That includes six seniors – Jessica Taylor, Erica Owens, Anna Kathryn Adair, Nealy Jones, Ellen Gresham and Kayla Kotowicz – plus several other returnees and some newcomers.
“We do have a large number of new players this year,” Mirante said. “I think many athletes were hesitant to participate in soccer the first couple of years of the program, simply because they were unfamiliar with the sport itself and also were wary of adding more to their already busy schedules.
“The word, however, seems to be spreading about how much fun the sport is and how much potential there is in the program here.
“The more young players we can bring in, the better, because in doing so we’ll be able to build a solid foundation of fundamentals at the younger ages (seventh-10th grades) and in turn should see a great improvement in our competitiveness when they are juniors and seniors.”
The coach said summer workouts have gone well, even with the various other activities pulling the girls away while school’s out.
“I have been thrilled this summer to see a core group of athletes dedicate themselves to being present and working hard each time we meet,” Mirante said. “There is no doubt those players will lead us through this season and will each see great individual improvement as a result of their commitment.”
She sees the girls starting to develop a true “feel” for the game.
“That’s hard to describe unless you’ve played the sport, and it won’t be something that’s flashy or showy,” Mirante said. “However, that ‘feel’ – that understanding of what play is best when, where the angles are, when it’s best to back off and when it’s best to attack – is absolutely essential. That only comes with time, and I’m excited to see it beginning to come about.”
Once again the schedule is filled with seasoned soccer teams.
“Just as last season, we will be challenged each and every game,” she said.
District competitors include Magnolia Heights, Heritage, Bayou, Indianola, Lee (Clarksdale) and Immanuel Christian. It is Magnolia Height’s first year to have a soccer program.
“We have no idea what to expect from them (Magnolia Heights); however, we are familiar with our other district competitors,” Mirante said.
“Last season we competed very closely with each of those teams except Indianola. Indianola is a powerhouse and we simply didn’t have the experience or the skill to handle them. My understanding is they graduated a few players last year, but they will always be one of our toughest, if not the toughest, competitors.”
Mirante turns to legendary basketball coach John Wooden for her definition of success – “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”
Thus, she will not set goals based on number of games her team will win or how many goals it will score.
“My goal is for this team to be able to say after each and every practice and game that we did the very best we could,” she said. “If we do that, there is no doubt that the wins will take care of themselves.”
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