Goalkeepers, speed, new talent to bring excitement to Lady Dogs soccer
If results from the Baldwin Jamboree are to be any indication of future success, the Lady Dogs should have no problem playing competitively in the region. The relatively young but promising team posted two close losses and one tie in the preseason exhibition.
The Lady Dogs return half of last year’s varsity lettermen while adding a number of underclassmen and transfers. The 21-girl team will be led principally by senior captains Erin Craig and Leslie Smith. Supporting them will be a good corps of juniors, with Danielle Kahn, Candice Johnston and Lindsey Vaughters having had extended time starting for the team last season. In addition, the team features four sophomores, Kelly Seibert, Linda Cranmer, Shaquan Brown and Amanda Poling. Representing the freshmen will be Lynne Nelson on defense and Tiffany Collier in goal.
The team shows improvement over last year’s squad in three regards: the addition of two dedicated goalkeepers, a faster attack and fresh, new talent. Senior Ashley Simpson and Collier will spend time in goal. Both come from coordinated athletic backgrounds, in softball and basketball, respectively. On the other end of the field, a revitalized offense will feature fast forwards Danielle Massey and Brown. Strength in the goal will be supplemented by defensive prowess from recruits Cranmer and Paula Collins, both of whom come to Morgan County with extensive experience in the sport. The depth in defense will allow Kahn and Craig to move to midfield, further improving the Lady Dogs’ offense.
Adverse conditions plagued the team in the Baldwin Jamboree, in which the girls picked up a tie against Jackson County and a loss to Baldwin County, both of whom rival the Lady Dogs in the region.
Assistant Coach Hiram Johnston credits a very close 2—0 loss to Aquinas in last year’s playoffs as being psychologically important for the team, which can now see itself as competitive with any team in the region. This year’s schedule allows time to build confidence, pitting the Lady Dogs against powerhouses Aquinas and Athens Academy at the end of the season.
"I’m thinking that we’re going to be a much stronger team by the end of the season than we were last year," said Coach Johnston. "We’re hoping to beat Aquinas and Athens Academy."
The first game of the regular season will be held next Thursday on the road against Putnam County. Kickoff is 5 p.m.