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Plenty of weapons for Lady SoccerDawg ‘threepeat’ try
preview: girlssoccer

If the new goalkeeper plays well, the Bearden Lady SoccerDawgs will be overwhelming favorites for a Class AAA state title “threepeat” in 2008.

The two-time defending state champions blitzed through Tennessee competition without a loss in 2007 — 23-2-1 overall record — and except for a tie versus archrival Farragut in the regular season would have been perfect versus Volunteer State foes.

Loads of proven talent returns — eight regular starters plus two other part-time starters. “And we’ve got another great freshmen class, we’ve got 15 freshmen. As good as last year’s [freshmen],” said BHS head coach Eric Turner, who since 2001 has won five Class AAA state soccer titles, including three leading the BHS boys.

“Obviously when we get to state we know anything can happen, but our girls know what it takes to get it done,” Turner said.

It all starts with three All-state honorees, led by All-South honoree Amy Porter, a senior forward and LSU commitment who led BHS with 29 goals last year. Porter is a two-time All-state choice.

“Amy Porter’s been the top forward in the area for the past three years,” Turner said.

As a freshman in 2007 who scored 17 goals, All-state forward Samantha Turner tied the Class AAA state record with 24 assists. Senior defender Tessa Batchelor also earned All-state honors in 2007.

Other forwards are junior Ashley Howarth, second on the team last year with 24 goals, and sophomore Caroline Gianeselli, 15 goals. Both were All-Region honorees.

“What’s great about [Porter] and Sam and all our forwards, you just can’t shut one of ’em down,” the coach said.

“We’re returning 95 percent of our goals.”

Porter said there’s still room for personal improvement. “I definitely want to pick up my game a little bit and score some more goals,” she said, “And make the team better.”

Though Turner said “we had great senior leadership last year,” he added that with seniors Porter, Batchelor, and midfielders Caroline Lutz and Kate Beil, “I think we’re going to get just a great of leadership out of them.”

Otherwise, the defense returns intact: junior All-Region 2-AAA Taylor Cravanas, center; sophomore All-Region Kimble Glover, left side, and Batchelor on the right side.

“Kimble’s got great speed … she’s shut down some of the top forwards in the state last year, especially on the way to the state championship,” Turner said.

“Tessa’s just a big bruiser in the back, she’s kinda the enforcer,” he added. “Taylor’s just a really great athlete and great cerebral player. She can sit in the middle of the field and see what’s going on and read and react. … Great on corners.”

Batchelor talked about senior unity. “We’re pretty close, we hang out and stuff,” she said. “We’ve bonded pretty good.”

Center-midfielders are Beil, a senior, and Kirsten Bodker, a junior, “both of which got a ton of playing time last year,” Turner said.

“They’ve been integral the last two years in the state championship. … Kate’s more of a defensive mid, and Kirsten’s more of an attacking, offensive mid.

Beil talked about BHS’s depth. “We have some really great upcoming freshmen and I’m really excited about it,” she said.

Lutz, left-side midfielder, is another returning starter who said it’s more than just talent that’s brought consecutive state crowns.

“We’ve always had to work really hard, and when we work hard we come together and win,” she said. “We tend to play harder when people play harder against us.

“When we have a target on our backs it just makes us stronger.”

Among three key starters lost is All-South and All-state goalkeeper Sarah Canter, “which is huge for us,” Turner said. “That’s the big question mark.”

Canter’s replacement? Turner said it’s between juniors Courtney Johnson and Michelle Heath.

As for other newcomers to watch, Turner pointed to freshmen midfielders Rebecca Stover and Olivia Gianeselli. “They’ve really kinda stood out,” he said.

In addition to goalkeeper inexperience, Turner said “complacency” could be another team enemy. “Are they just going to think that they can walk on the field and win?” he asked. “Traditionally that doesn’t happen to us, but you never know. Each year’s group is different.”

Team trainer is Mandee Lassiter.


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