Science Hill’s girls soccer team isn’t loaded with seniors, but there is plenty of depth to make it a strong group once again.
“We’ve got a bunch of solid girls,” said third-year head coach Megan Aldridge. “We don’t have a star player, but everybody knows their role and knows their part. I think that’s what makes us strong. Everybody knows they will have to pull their own weight.”
Science Hill is favored to win the Big Eight Conference title this season with its toughest league competition probably coming from Dobyns-Bennett once again. The Lady Indians are off to a 4-1-1 start, with their lone loss coming against perennial state power Knox Bearden, which is ranked No. 5 in the state.
Sullivan South should follow up those teams while Daniel Boone, David Crockett and Tennessee High should be in the mix after that.
The Lady Hilltoppers (3-0 heading into Tuesday’s game at Sullivan Central) will count on leadership from seniors Taylor Newsom (defender), Alex Fellers (forward) and Dani Cade (midfielder).
“They are good leaders on and off the field,” said Aldridge. “They know what I expect.”
Also in the starting mix for the Hilltoppers are Sidney Bailey (midfielder), Lexi Sonekeo (defender), Paige Stull (midfielder), Cori Kilby (defender) and Timbra Delaney (forward).
Jessica Sabozzi will help Fellers and Delaney in the scoring mix while Katie Jones will complement the midfielders. Jona Charles is the goalkeeper.
“She’s doing awesome,” said Aldridge.
Last year the Hilltoppers made it to the Class AAA sectional before getting bounced out by Knox Catholic. Aldridge said this year’s team could also make some noise.
“I feel this year’s group is just as capable if not more capable of making noise in the postseason,” she said. “Everybody knows if they don’t do their part, we’re going to struggle. We’re all in this together.”
Already taking a quick splash into a tough schedule, the Pioneers came out of the Sevier County Invitational with a record of 2-2.
And head coach Tony Snapp said he believes his team can have another good season.
“We should with nine returners,” said Snapp. “We lost our leading scorer, but the other girls have already stepped in and took the pressure off. They’ve stepped up and helped out.”
Leading the way for the Pioneers are five solid seniors: forward Megan Cottage, defenders Hannah Jarrett and Kaitlyn Hensley, goalkeeper Brooklyn Snapp, and midfielder Sidney Grindstaff.
“They have all started for the most part for four years,” said Snapp. “We’re hoping for good things out of them this year.”
As for the younger players, sophomore Heather Scalf and freshman Caitlyn Shelton are among the standouts. Scalf, a midfielder, started every game last season while Shelton is expected to help Scalf put the ball in the net.
Snapp said he thinks his team can be in the top half of the league.
“You always want to try for the top, but I expect us to be in the three-four range,” said Snapp. “It’s a great bunch of kids. They try hard and come to practice and put forth effort. They want the team to succeed.”
With seven seniors on the team, including scoring threat Jennine Duncan, the Lady Trailblazers have upper-division hopes for 2011.
“I think we’re going to be fighting it out for the fourth spot,” said head coach Steve Sessis. “We’re in the middle of the pack, just behind the top-tier teams. And we can give the top-tier teams a battle.”
That was evidenced in Boone’s 4-2 loss to Dobyns-Bennett.
“It was a big step in the right direction,” said Sessis.
Leading the way for Boone this season along with Duncan are seniors Haley Anderson (midfielder), Abbi Greene (defender), Carrie Haaland (sweeper) and Andrea Rogers (goalkeeper).
Anderson scored from 35 yards out against the Indians, and is part of a strong center for Boone.
“Our center forward, center mid, center defender and goalkeeper are all seniors,” said Sessis. “They are the ones who keep everybody in check. I expect them to lead the team on the field.”
Boone (1-1 on the season heading into Tuesday’s game) should also get help from sophomore striker Alex Drumwright, sophomore defender Maddie Warden, and sophomore Hannah Fink.
“It’s a good sophomore class,” said Sessis.