Having enough athletes to fill the roster for a junior varsity team is generally not a major concern nor high priority for most coaches in varsity high school sports, because it's almost automatic that a JV team will be fielded. But the head coach of the Tyler Consolidated Lady Knight soccer team is ecstatic to have the opportunity to field such a team.
Twenty-seven young ladies signed up and have been attending practice at Burgbacher Field for the Silver and Black. Head coach Cliff Warner said he could not be more pleased. "This is what we've needed, a junior varsity team where the younger and new kids can get in some real game experience, learn the game and work their way onto to the varsity team without just being thrown in out-of-the-blue, not knowing what to expect. We're very excited to have this opportunity to teach the game and for them to learn without pressure."
The loss of stand out seniors Jackie Clark, Maddi Schlabowski, and Emily Wildman to graduation left the Lady Knights with holes to fill in the line-up on the field, and questions to be answered as to who should go where this season. But the influx of capable athletes along with experienced returners gave Warner and assistant coach Megan Goddard more than one solution to the problems. "We're going to be able to mix and match now, give the younger kids opportunities, and allow the returning players some leeway to try other positions or at least settle into their own game better. It's great."
2011 Lady Knight Varsity Soccer
Returning to the Lady Knight line-up are seniors Meggie Warner and Carissa Beaver both back for their fourth year of soccer at Tyler Consolidated, both strong midfielders and both selected to captain positions. Tiffany Kernan and Alexis Ebert, seniors, return to their defender positions on the field will co-captain the team. Seniors Lindsay Snider and Marley Snider return for their third year on the team, both as athletic forwards. Seniors Tara Weese, defender, and Gabby Clegg, forward, also return with experience.
"These girls are the heart and soul of our team," the coach said. "They have proven to be players and not by-standers, and I think how these girls play this season will reflect on how our season will turn out. They have it in them to do well, we just need them to bring that attitude to the games, and infect the other players with it."
Seniors, Alaina McCoy, forward; Kiley Yeater, midfield; and Jennifer Yost, midfield, join the team this season for the first time in their high school careers.
Also returning to the soccer field with varsity game experience are juniors: Chelsea Rosenlieb, forward and Tayler Vossen, midfield. Joining the team for the first time will be fellow eleventh graders: Allison Placer, midfield/forward; Victoria Shepherd, defender/midfield; Kathleen Smith, defender; and Tiffany Stinespring, forward.
The three sophomores on the team each played as freshmen and return with gusto and hard earned experience to the soccer field. Sophie Kinnard, Emily Knowlton and Megan Schlabowski each earned their stripes last year and will continue to make important strides this season. Kinnard will hold down the starting goal keeper position while Knowlton will be a strong midfielder for the team. Schlabowski will return to her position as a defender.
Seven freshmen will don the Silver and Black of the Lady Knight uniforms this season: Kelsie Bonar, defender; Kaylee Hartsfield, forward; Allison Keller, defender; Shannon Pratt, forward; Elizabeth Shepherd, defender; Haleigh Smith, midfield; and Haley Stewart, defender/goalie.
"It's good to see so many freshmen out," Warner said. "The majority of them are ready to play, anxious and athletic. I think even we'll be surprised by what they're about to bring to this team. We're happy they chose to be a part of Lady Knight soccer."
Last year the Lady Knight soccer team earned three wins, the most ever since the program started at the school some seven years ago. This year, the team is looking to exceed that number, possibly into double digits. "We can win games this year, we just have to realize we can do it," the coach said. "We need to play together and communicate on the field. There are some excellent athletes on this team, they just need to realize their potential."
Sectional and Regional titles are, of course, goals the team hopes to achieve. But more than that, the coaches are striving for a good, solid effort every time they take the field. "We want to win, but we want to play well and we want the girls to learn something and have some fun."
Warner also praised the support of the soccer parents and fans of the team. "We just have the best fans," he said. "They support us no matter what, and we can't thank them enough for everything they do for us."
The Lady Knights will begin their season on Aug. 20 at home when they host the Lady Golden Bears of Oak Glen at 1 p.m.. The team will travel to Steubenville on Aug. 23 at to Magnolia on Aug. 25.