The Hunger Games. That could be the title for Science Hill’s girls soccer season.
“The last two years we were cut short and lost in the sectional,” said head coach Megan Harmon. “These girls have that bitter taste, and they hate that feeling. We not only want to get to the state, we want to make some noise there.”
Reaching the state tournament is a realistic goal with a team that features 10 senior starters.
“We are a veteran team,” said Harmon. “This team has what it takes, and we won’t be satisfied until it happens.”
Science Hill is favored to win the Big Eight Conference, but the Lady Hilltoppers know Dobyns-Bennett is always looming in the distance.
“It’s no surprise D-B will be our competition in the conference,” said Harmon. “They have some really good players this year, and it’s always a battle. I look for it to be a dogfight.”
Other teams potentially standing in Science Hill’s way when the postseason arrives are Knox Farragut, Knox Bearden and Oak Ridge. As part of getting prepared for such battles, Science Hill will soon play in a Kentucky tournament against championship contenders from that state.
“We made the schedule difficult to prepare us for the postseason,” said Harmon.
Leading the way up top for Science Hill will be Timbra Delaney and sophomore running mate Rachel Jones.
“We look for big things out of those two as the season goes along,” said Harmon.
Commanding the midfield are Sidney Bailey, Paige Stull, Mary Alice Pope and Katie Jones.
Holding fort in the back are Lexi Sonekeo, Rebecca Alison, Jessie Sabozzi and Cori Kilby.
“Our spine, going up the center of the field, is unbelievable,” said Harmon. “If you come down our spine, you’re going to have to work for it. It is really tough to get through.”
Jona Charles takes care of the goalkeeping duties. Harmon said Charles is a good leader.
Off the bench, Harmon will mainly use junior Grace Browder also with sophomores Haley Torbett and Megan Lich. Also, freshman Hannah Torbett could be a standout in the making.
“She has the best footwork of anybody I’ve ever coached,” said Harmon.
Selflessness is the key for the Lady Hilltoppers this season, said Harmon.
“We’ve got to let go of personal goals, and make team goals the top priority,” she said.
Off to a 3-0 start, the Lady Trailblazers are defying their age and experience.
“We don’t have a great deal of depth, and have only one senior,” said head coach Steve Sessis, whose team has beaten Grainger, University High and KACHEA. “We graduated a whole bunch. We have four juniors, and the rest are sophomores and freshmen. But we do field a competitive team.”
Brooke Parton is the team’s senior. She helps anchor the midfield along with sophomore Jenna Snyder, who Sessis said is a steady player.
Boone will be looking for juniors Alex Drumwright and Katelyn Cox to get the ball in the net.
“Those are our big scoring threats,” said Sessis. “It’s mostly their speed. They are light and nimble.”
Leading the way in the back are juniors Hannah Fink and Maddie Warden. Sessis said their experience makes them good players.
Taylor Robinson, a sophomore, has taken over as the starter at goalkeeper.
“She is athletic,” said Sessis. “She has good hands, she can jump, and she’s not afraid to come out. She’s tough.”
Overall, Sessis said he liked his team’s performances as it headed into Tuesday’s home game against Science Hill.
“We’re very happy with the start,” he said. “We feel we can be competitive throughout the season, provided we don’t experience injuries.”
Youth is the main ingredient for the Lady Pioneers.
“We lost a lot of key players from last year, so we are very young,” said head coach Dean Hogan. “We only have one senior, and because of a few injuries were are using freshmen in starting roles.”
The top returning player for Crockett is Heather Scalf. The junior midfielder already has a hat trick, coming in a win over Cocke County.
“She scored a lot as a freshman and sophomore,” said Hogan.
Helping out in the scoring department will be sophomore forward Kaetlan Shelton. Hogan said she has improved tremendously from last year.
Other key players include midfielders Holly Hamner (So.) and Monica Gladden (Jr.) along with junior defenders Katie Williams and Kristin Williams, who are twin sisters. Also in the mix is junior midfielder Shannon Duffy.
The lone senior is goalkeeper Megan Canonizado. She is currently out with an injury, and the goal is being tended by Jenna Clark (Fr.) and Shianne Milbourn (So.).
“I think we’re getting much better each game,” said Hogan, whose team is 1-2 on the season. “As our foot skill improves and we gain confidence, we will be a much different team come tournament time.”