A season of growth, that is what Matt Kinnard, new head coach of the Lady Knight soccer team at Tyler Consolidated High School hopes to accomplish with his charges this season.
"We have a great group," Kinnard said. "The only thing is, we're very young and very inexperienced. We have our work cut out for us, but this is a group that is willing to work hard for success.
With a boatload of seniors lost from last years team, 11 in all, the Lady Knights of 2012 will not only have big shoes to fill, but major holes in the line-up to cover. Lost to graduation were: Meggie Warner, Carissa Beaver, Tiffany Kernan, Alexis Ebert, Lindsay Snider, Marley Snider, Tara Weese, Gabby Clegg, Alaina McCoy, Kiley Yeater and Jennifer Yost.
This year, the majority of leadership and on-field responsibilities will be placed on the shoulders of the two returning seniors, Tayler Vossen and Victoria Shepherd and the three juniors on the team, Sophie Kinnard, Megan Schabloski and Emily Knowlton.
Kinnard will return as goal keeper with Knowlton likely holding down her spot as a midfielder and Schabloski as a strong defender.
"These girls are back with experience, and we need that," Kinnard said. "We're going to be expecting a lot out of them, although we need our younger kids to get as much game experience as they can."
Bringing a year of experience to the team are returning sophomores, Haleigh Smith, Haley Stewart, Kelsey Bonar and Shaina Pratt.
Newcomers to the team include seniors: Katelyne Smith, Kayla Snyder, and Lauren Seckman and freshmen signing up for their rookie season are Karly Allen, Cheyenne Blizzard, Lydia Morse, Bryanna Munoz and Lacey Seckman.
Though coach Kinnard is the new head coach of the Lady Knights, he not at all new to soccer, having both played and coached the game for several years.
"The most important things we have to learn this year are to communicate with each other and learn to trust," he said of his team.
"These kids want to do well, they really do, but we can't hurry the learning part along. We want to play the game the way it is supposed to be played, and we're working on that."
"Every team wants to win their Sectionals and Regionals and state championships. Of course, that's our goal too, but we know that we must understand the game better to play better, and then the wins will come."
The Lady Knights had their first outing last week, falling to the Lady Bears of Oak Glen, 4-0, not quite the way the team wanted to start the season.
"But we got better as we played," the coach said. "Some things you can just learn on a field in a game situation, and that was what was happening with us that day."
"By the end of the game we had more of an idea of what was happening and why, and that's a good thing. It may take a few games, but we're getting there. We're growing."
The Lady Knights played in New Martinsville against Magnolia last night and will see action again on Aug. 23 when they host the Lady Eagles at Burgbacher Field.