Thursday, August 2, 2012
Marshall kicks off soccer season
By BARRY BURLESON
Coach Lance McGregor enters a new Marshall Academy soccer season this week with seven sixth and seventh graders on a 13-player roster.
“I expect us to make a lot of mistakes this year and I expect us to learn from them and to become better,” he said about his Lady Patriots. “I expect us to play hard and to get better each time out. I’ve taken a different approach and really went back to the basic fundamentals due to the fact of how youthful we are. This team really works well as a team and does a great job of looking for the passes and not being selfish.”
The MA girls opened the season Tuesday afternoon at Manchester Academy and hosted Lee Academy Wednesday. They will meet Manchester again Friday at 5 p.m. in Holly Springs. Next Tuesday, Aug. 7, the Lady Pats go to Immanuel Christian for a 7 p.m. game.
“We will be switching the positions up quite a bit this year until we can find the right combination,” he said. “I have an idea of what I want to do but you can never tell until they are in a real game.”
Seniors on the squad are Lori Simpson, Erin Williams and Elizabeth Byard.
“Lori is expected to be a strong senior leader,” McGregor said. “She missed last year but has come out this year and really earned the respect of the younger girls. She was a bit sluggish at first but quickly got back into form. She is a very smart player and brings a lot to the table. I really wish I could have had her for four years.”
M.C. Hutchens, a sophomore, brings plenty of experience to the squad.
“She is without a doubt our leader on and off of the field,” he said. “She carries a strong work ethic and her character really stands out. In my opinion, she is one of the top players in the state and has a real chance of playing beyond high school.”
Freshman players are Parker Stephenson and Bailey Blaker.
“Parker has really stepped it up this year,” Coach McGregor said. “She has developed a real interest in the sport and has given her commitment to getting better and doing what she needs to help the team. If she continues to work hard and show dedication, she has a chance to be really good.
“Bailey has the chance to be a difference maker, but has to decide how good she wants to be. Her leg has gotten much stronger and we really need her to step up and score some goals.”
Three seventh graders will go to battle for Marshall – Audrey Poole, Abby Sanders and Kaylea Fitch.
“Audrey is a big key to the team and has to find what it was that drove her again from a year ago,” he said. “If she works as hard and plays as hard as she did last year she has a chance to be very good.”
Rounding out the MA team are sixth graders Peyton Stephenson, Mary Nealy Jones, Sarah Jackson and Maggie Livingston.
“Peyton may be small but she works as hard, if not harder, than anyone,” McGregor said. “She is a tenacious defender but will likely play midfield due to lack of numbers. She may have more upside potential than anyone on the team if she puts forth the time.”
The coach expects nerves to play a factor early on with such a young squad.
“A repeating trend I’ve continued to notice over the past three years is the fact of how much the team has improved over the course of the season,” he said. “Each year we have started off terribly and become competitive the last part of the year. We are hoping to change that a little this year, but I expect a lot of nervous girls the first few games, for sure.
“We are on the right track as far as potential for long-term success is concerned, but it is still in the early stages. We just have to continue to get these younger girls involved and that is something our girls truly work hard at. They are constantly out recruiting new players and that shows how much they love the game.”
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