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Practices have been underway for a while for both the boys and girls soccer teams at Marion County High School. With the extremely hot weather that has been in the area for the past couple of weeks, the teams have resorted to practicing early in the morning or late at night when the temperature is not so excessive. The unusual practice times have not deterred the teams from concentrating on their goals.
“As a team, we expect to improve on last year’s record by several victories, and our outlook is to compete for one of the district’s spots in regionals,” Hart Hagan, the head girls soccer coach, said.
Hagan also noted that this year’s team will be a veteran lead squad.
“Our returning starters will play a tremendous role in our success this year,” Hagan said. “I expect nine of our 11 starters will be juniors or seniors; so I am looking for them to provide a great deal of experience and leadership on the field.”
During practice Hagan has noticed a few things that he likes from his players. One example in particular is the blue-collar leadership example that senior JoAnn Elder has been setting.
Several members of last year’s eighth grade and junior varsity teams will play key roles on the varsity squad this season. Hagan commented on Noel Obata and her ability to become an elite player.
“Obata could have the greatest impact of the newcomers,” he said. “I think by the end of the season, she will be recognized as one of the elite players in the region.”
Some key players that Hagan said could have an impact on the season included Claire Hagan, Noel and Sara Obata, Lindsey Browning, and the defensive unit made up of Lauren Brussell, Marissa McCormick, Abigail Hagan, and Ann Thomas Daugherty. Claire Hagan plays the keeper position with what Coach Hagan refers to as, “some of the best natural instincts as a keeper I’ve ever come across as a coach.”
The Obata sisters will most likely have an impact on the program. Noel is set to become an elite player, and Sara has one of the highest soccer IQ’s that Coach Hagan said he’s ever ran across, at any level. Coach Hagan said Browning has a “nose for the goal” and will be a very “dangerous offensive weapon” once she puts all the pieces together.”
The defensive unit of Brussell, McCormick, Hagan, and Daugherty work very well together and play an extremely aggressive style of soccer, according to Hagan. “Ann Thomas is recovering from ankle surgery, but she will set the tone for our defense,” Hagan said. “We are eagerly awaiting her full recovery and return to the field.”
Hagan, along with assistant coach Ashley Clark, look for this season to be a good one. With six seniors on the team, the coaching staff hopes that the proper tone will be set for a successful campaign.
The Lady Knights will open up preseason play with a pair of scrimmages. Next Tuesday, the Lady Knights will host Mercer County at 5:30 p.m., and the following Saturday the team will hit the road to take part in the Collins Soccerama against Ballard Memorial.
On the boys side, Head Coach Greg Conley is excited about the potential of his team.
“This will be a key year with John Southall, Christian Carmona, Michael Costello, and Satchel Tatum returning,” he said. “We were so young last year, we are returning almost the entire team.”
Conley is also excited about the prospect of entering a season with eight seniors. Three key players who did not see varsity action last season, will be playing key roles on the varsity squad this year.
Senior John Southall and sophomore Joey Costello will hold down the midfield, according to Conley.
“Both Southall and Costello have become very good players and can play with anyone in the state,” he said. “Michael Costello has improved tremendously in the goal and should provide us with the defensive presence we need.”
Conley also commented that senior Christian Carmona is one of the most skillful and crafty players, and sophomore Dylan Spalding will complement him up top. Junior Satchel Tatum will run the defense another year, wiser and stronger, according to Conley. Conley, along with assistant coach Phil Chatigny and stat keeper Colleen Ryan, are looking forward to this season.
“I feel like we can compete with anyone in the state,” Conley said. “We have a goal of winning the district and competing for a regional title.”
Conley went on to talk about the personal way the game against Boyle County gets him emotional.
“Playing against my son in the Boyle County/Marion County game always gets me emotional and fires up my team,” Conley said.
That game will take place on Aug. 25 at 7:30 p.m.
The first regular season game for the girls team will take place on Aug. 15 at home against Berea. That game is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. The full girls schedule consists of 11 home games and eight games on the road, with the final regular season game scheduled for Oct. 6. According to www.khsaa.org, the boys soccer season is set to begin on Aug. 16 at home against LaRue County. Their schedule consists of nine home games and 12 on the road. The boys final regular season game is scheduled for Oct. 8 at home against Berea.