NEW PARIS — The year 2015 was one to forget for the Lady Blazers, who went 0-15-1 on the season. But with new energy and an infusion of new talent, National Trail’s girls soccer program aims for much improvement this year.
Coach Lisa McCloskey will guide her team to better days. She has been a coach for 12 years and is into her second season at Trail.
National Trail was a very young team last season, loaded with freshmen and sophomores. Gone are seniors Emily Green, Makena Brinley and three others. But 12 ladies return from last year’s team with experience and significant playing time.
“I was a new coach last year so it was a building season,” McCloskey said. “I think we did really well for our size last year, with only 15 kids. This year we have about 20.”
Several players from last year look to make an impact for the Lady Blazers. Erika Gallaher is a junior defender and team captain. Junior Ruth Wellman and senior team captain Kate Othersen will help lead the team as well.
“These three are seasoned players and great leaders,” said McCloskey. “We are looking forward to their performances.”
Other returning players are Kristen Othersen (senior,) Haley Baker (junior,) Chloe Anderson (junior,) Gracie Jones (sophomore,) Sophie McCloskey (junior,) Elizabeth Melton (sophomore,) Mallory Nugent (sophomore,) Taylor Middleton (senior,) Rachel Ray (junior,) Makayla Duffie (sophomore,) and Bri Dillow (senior.)
“I’m really excited about this year and I hope we work as a team to succeed,” Gallaher said. “We started communicating more in the summer. The team captain is a role I’ve been looking forward to, and I hope to do my best. It’s not as much pressure as I had thought, but I hope the younger players look up to me — I don’t want to let anyone down.”
Kate Othersen, one of only four seniors on the team, thought back on her high school playing days leading up to now. “It has been a long four years but I love the game and hope to win more,” she said. “I want the team to work hard with me and being a captain is something l love. I like seeing everyone work hard, and my coach is like having a second mother to me.”
“I have been playing since I was in second grade and now I’m eager to play as an upperclassman,” said Wellman. “I’ve worked on my conditioning and breathing so I can be in shape.”
Ladies joining the varsity for the first time are freshmen Brooklyn Anderson, Trena Caldwell, Lila Pegg, Kelsey Patrum, and Davlyn Werner.
“We have a strong group of freshmen coming in, and they are really talented. I only have five, but they have gone through conditioning very well,” McCloskey said. “I have actually coached the younger girls on the team so they are familiar with my style and I know them very well. I am a teacher and stress the basic skills and character. I feel like they have to learn first and get the skills. We want to win and learn ‘team first.’”
Saturday, Aug. 20 will bring the Lady Blazers’ first game of the season, at Troy Christian.
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH.