Sometimes the end of a season surprises a team, comes upon them before they realize it, or want it happen, then it's all over. Such is the case for the Lady Knight varsity and junior varsity soccer teams at Tyler Consolidated. Last week the Lady Knights achieved both the high and lows of their season, with a win in the first round of Sectional play, and then a devastating loss to end 2011 for them.
The Ladies in Silver played at New Martinsville against the Lady Blue Eagles of Magnolia on Oct. 18 in the first round of the Sectionals, taking the 4-1 win with a concentrated effort.
"This is the first time we've beat Magnolia in Sectionals," said head coach of the Lady Knights, Cliff Warner. "I was very proud of the way the kids kept their focus, stayed with our game plan and behaved on and off the field. We played well and with more enthusiasm than we have been."
Scoring goals for Consolidated on the day were Carissa Beaver, Haleigh Smith, Marley Snider, and Jennifer Yost. Meg Warner was credited with two assists and Knight goal keeper had six important saves in the contest.
The win over Magnolia pitted the Lady Knights in the Sectional final in Wheeling against a formidable Wheeling Central team two days later. The game was moved to facilities at Bethany College due to poor field conditions at Central.
"We knew going in that we were going to have to be on top of our game," Warner said. "The girls were ready, they played exceptionally well and we held them defensively better than we ever have."
Unfortunately, the Lady Knights were on the short end of the 2-0 score when time ran out to end Sectional play, sending the Maroon Knights to Regionals.
"It was just heartbreaking to have played that well and then come out with the loss," said the coach. "They scored their first goal late in the first half and then the second right off the bat after the half, but we never gave up. Our girls left everything they had out on the field. We played very well."
The Lady Knights will lose 11 seniors on the team to graduation, leaving major holes in the line-up next season. "What a great bunch of seniors we've been fortunate enough to be with all year," Warner said. "Saying that we will miss them both individually and as team mates is not enough. They have been so important to our successes, our team attitude and overall well being of the program, and I feel each and every one of them is irreplaceable." Senior members of the team include: Meggie Warner, Carissa Beaver, Lindsay Snider, Marley Snider, Tiffany Kernan, Alexis Ebert, Jennifer Yost, Tara Weese, Alaina McCoy, Gabby Clegg and Kylee Yeater.
Warner and assistant coach Megan Goddard began the year with 15 players embarking on their first look at an actual soccer field; six players with two years of experience; five with three years and two who have seen four years of varsity experience, making this year, a rebuilding one, more than any other. For the first time, Tyler Consolidated was able to form a junior varsity team which Warner believes will do more to enhance the girls program at the school than anything else.
"The junior varsity program allows for so much more teaching, real game experience, and fundamental basics that you just can't get anywhere else but in a soccer situation," he said. "Our junior varsity kids have stuck with us and more than a few of them have seen action on the varsity field. This will only bode well for the future of girls soccer at Tyler Consolidated."
The Lady Knights end the year with four regular season wins, one tie, and a Sectional win. "While it would have been nice to get the Sectional win, we realize we still have a ways to go and we just have to put more work into our game," said the coach. "We, of course, wish the boys team nothing but luck at their Section final, and we'd like to offer our appreciation to all our fans and parents who came out to support us this season. The school staff and our fans have been extraordinary, and it adds to our overall program."
With some nice experienced underclassmen moving up next year, Warner looks to add several freshmen to the mix and continue to build the Lady Knight soccer program.