LEWISBURG — The Tri-County North girls soccer program brings in a large sophomore class. The 11 tenth graders make up over half the team and now have one year of varsity experience under their cleats.
“The majority of them have played together for many years. Now they have the varsity level of experience. It’s the communication and the team bonding they have and the friendship they have, when they walk on the field, that’s what they are comfortable with,” said head coach Darren Baldasare. “It’s another year of experience under their belt, it’s huge. But they are still young. They are still underclassmen.”
The group of sophomores is joined by one senior, three juniors, and five freshmen.
The young team was able to piece together nine wins last season, which is one of the better seasons in recent history for the Lady Panthers.
While the underclassmen make up a majority of the team, lone senior Jessica Koker is expected to anchor the defense.
“I expect her to lead by experience and lead by actions,” said Baldasare. “She’s a very good soccer player. She has a lot of experience on the field. I expect her to lead our defense and lead by example.”
Sophomore forwards Hailey Thies and Megan Hemp, goalie Morgan Helman, and junior defender Chelsey Strawser are expected to play big roles in the team’s success this year as well.
Rounding out the rest of the roster is Emily Browning, Hailey Stupp, Andrea Combs, Rachael Denpsey, Aubrey Wiltshire, Preston Lipinski, Taylor Green, Paige Daugherty, Ma’Kayla Toohey, Jacque Owens, Brooke Maleski, Liv Baldasare, Kaylah Keener, Megan Hemp, Emily Browning, and Lexi Frantz.
Moving into the season, the team must play better defense than in year’s prior if they hope to improve upon last year’s win total, said Baldasare.
“That was our weak spot last year. The games that we lost, we had three or more goals scored on us. The key to our team right now is defense,” he said. “That’s what we’re working on and that’s what we are focusing on.”
North was scheduled to open their season on Tuesday, Aug. 25 against Stivers. They will host Dixie on Thursday, Aug. 27 at 5:30 p.m. before traveling to Greenville on Saturday, Aug. 29 for an 11 a.m. match-up.
Jeremy Erskine may be reached at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @jerskine_RH