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HVA girls soccer preview ’09
Wilson on soccer: ‘I think we’re going to surprise people’

- Alan Sloan/farragutpress
Though the core of Hardin Valley Academy’s first-ever varsity girls soccer team mostly were freshmen, the Lady Hawks still managed six wins in 2008.

With all players back in 2009 — including four All-District 3-AAA honorees — a high degree of improvement is expected.

“Even last year I think we came out and surprised a lot of teams,” HVA head coach Becka Wilson said of her team’s 6-8-3 record. “I think [opponents] expected just to walk right into our goal with the ball, and they didn’t. There were some really good teams we played some good soccer against.

“I think we’re going to continue to surprise people,” Wilson added. “I don’t think they realize how much we’ve improved in a year.”

Saying injuries also made winning more difficult in 2008, Wilson said about 2009, “We have a lot more sophomores and we have a lot more depth.”

But Wilson said the team’s weakness still could be youth, because the 2009 Lady Hawks have only three upperclassmen.

“By the time you’re a junior and a senior, you’re just mentally more mature,” the coach said. “While we are a young team, mentally we have to step up and not get frustrated when we get fouled.

“Last year we got knocked off our game a lot because we had a freshman who was going against a senior on another team,” she added. “Soccer is a contact sport, and they would get really frustrated and mentally just check out.”

But Wilson said leadership is a strength (team pictured, left).

“We have a couple of key players that know they are leaders and are really doing their best,” Wilson said of co-captains Grace Milner, the team’s only senior, and sophomore Allie Kington. “They lead by encouragement ... talking them through certain things ... if a bad pass is made, instead of a sharp criticism they say, ‘It’s O-K, next time it just needs to be a little quicker.’”

Midfielder Milner, an All-District 3-AAA honoree last season, said she shows leadership by “encouraging people when they’re down. ... and kinda lead by example.”

Milner spelled out one goal for the 2009 season: “I want to beat West and I want to beat some of the teams we lost to last year.”

Sophomore Maddie Beal is one starting forward.

Though Kington primarily was a midfielder as a freshman in 2008 — earning All-District honors there — Wilson said she “also has a knack for scoring” and also will see time at forward.

“We do have a couple of key freshmen who came in this year that we expect to make an impact,” Wilson added about midfielder Emily Smith and midfielder/forward Ellie Myrick.

Ellie’s sister, sophomore defender Emma Myrick who missed much of last year with an injury, “is an excellent player,” Wilson said.

Wilson labels junior Gretchen Johnson, another All-District honoree in 2008, “A solid defender, she’s just really consistent. A player you can depend on.”

Sophomore Shelby Buchanan, yet another All-District honoree last year, and junior Shelby Christian also are key defenders.

Sophomore Whitney Moore is starting goalkeeper.

“We’re still a very young team, but the girls know what it’s like to play other varsity teams,” Wilson said. “Most of the girls have been together for a year already, so just playing on the field we should be able to work together a lot better.

“Stronger relationships on and off the field.”

Assistant coach is Michelle Weller.


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