Better chemistry, better Cavs Girls soccer: South Carroll's young team learned a lot last season that is being reflected in improved play this fall and co-county champion status.

October 29, 1998|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

The foundation for this year's South Carroll co-county champions was put in place a year ago.

Coach Jim Horn had to work with 11 first-year varsity players who had to learn about contributing right away for a squad that had some holes in its starting lineup.

But that group is now an experienced group, and the Cavaliers have put together a 9-4-1 record, including 4-1-1 in gaining a tie with North Carroll for the county championship.

The co-champs, who played a scoreless tie last week, will meet )) in the second round of the regional playoffs next Wednesday night at North Carroll.

A year ago, Horn's team finished its regular season 7-4-3 but was bumped out of the playoffs in its first game by Linganore, 1-0.

"With such a turnover and so many new players, they spent the year trying to find themselves and establish some team chemistry," Horn said yesterday in replaying the last two seasons.

"This year, the girls took care of that in our pre-season practices. I was a week out of shoulder surgery, did little more than sit on a chair, and sometimes I wasn't even there. The girls ran their workouts and did what they had to do.

"It put a lot of pressure on them, because they could have just blown off those sessions, but they didn't."

It was likely a carry-over of their attitude (and aptitude) in the classroom, where defenders Katie Hancock, Kim Lowry, and Leah Onda are 4.0 students, Kellen Webb nearly so in advanced courses, and Mandy Hughes has a 3.5.

For the second straight year, South Carroll's defense, practically unchanged from a year ago, has been outstanding. But scoring has been a problem. This season, the team scored no more than one goal in any of the four losses and the tie. With the exception of three lopsided games, no more than two goals were scored in any game.

Hughes, a four-year starter in goal and an All-County choice last season, has been the leader in back as one of the team's four senior captains. Included in the nine wins and tie were nine shutouts, raising her school-record total to 28.

In front of her are four experienced backs -- juniors Hancock and Webb and sophomores Lowry and Onda. Hancock is in her third varsity season, the other three, their second, and all but Onda are small-sized.

Last year's learning experience among the backs has meant a significant difference this season.

"Our ball control is much better," Webb said, "and we're much more comfortable with each other. Last year, we just kicked the ball."

Onda confessed to maybe not being scared last year but at least being quiet.

"This year, I'm talking more, the communication among us is perfect, and we're there for each other," she said.

Hancock and Webb have been especially adept at marking players, "trying to stay close, and get that position," says Webb.

Webb, Lowry, and Onda play on the same club team and they see this as gaining additional experience playing together.

"There is constant movement in back, and we know how to switch for each other," Webb continued. Also, Hancock and junior midfielder Sandy Lagana are on the same club team, another bonus.

Citing another benefit of the experience, Hughes said, "I trust my defense more than I did last year."

Added Hancock: "We're all more trusting of each other now."

Horn points to this group, plus senior Jodi Baier (a two-year sweeper) and Lagana (a two-year fullback), and it is easy to see why the focus is on team defense.

"Even Diana Bolard, a striker, has proved to be a great defender up front, disrupting opposing teams' attempts to get its offense started," he said.

The players are aware of the school's rich tradition in girls soccer, too, and want to improve on it.

"I think we can," says Webb. "There is a lot of potential for that."

Pub Date: 10/29/98

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