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The Marion County High School Knights and Lady Knights soccer teams have been practicing heavily over the past several weeks in preparation for the upcoming season. The Knights team lost a lot of key components from last year's squad that made it to the semi-finals of the district tournament. Nine seniors, including offensive weapons John Southall and Christian Carmona, graduated from the team. Replacing Southall and Carmona "will be a tall order," Head Coach Greg Conley said, but he thinks the team is up to it.
The Lady Knights are in a bit of a different situation than the boys team. With the departure of last year's head coach, the team was in search of a new coach. The new head coach for the team is Devin Johnson. Johnson knows that last year's team had its struggles and tough times, but he feels that this year's group can turn that around.
"I think that if everyone believes and brings 100 percent to every practice and game, we can have a very successful season," Johnson said.
Johnson notes that he doesn't know a lot of details about last season's struggles, but feels that he can turn the program around and have a successful season.
"All I know is what I have heard from the girls, and none of them seemed too pleased with the outcome last season," he said. "My main focus is to turn a new page in the history books of Marion County Lady Knights soccer."
Both Conley and Johnson were quick to point out that Marion County soccer will be playing in a new district this season. Both hope to be able to bring home some hardware in the first year with the new teams.
"We want to come in and win our new district the first year," Conley said. "We have a solid starting group, but are very young with the depth of our team. We will need to stay healthy as the season progresses, and the young folks are going to have to mature fast."
Coach Johnson also commented on the new district.
"With the new district that we are in, I don't see any reason why we can't bring home some hardware at the end," he said. "That's my goal... district champs."
Postseason games this year will be played at Marion County, but both coaches know that there are some key games on the schedules before that.
"Any district game is big," Conley said. "The Boyle County game is also interesting because my son plays for Boyle County. Senior night against John Hardin will also be a big game."
Johnson has a bit of a different perspective.
"Every match is key in its own way, but I would say the most important games would be the three district games against LaRue County, Taylor County and Hart County," he said. "Getting a good seed in the district tournament is key to any success we would have in the postseason."
The Knights will feature a team with four seniors, while the Lady Knights will have three on their roster. Phil Chatigny will be the assistant coach for the boys team, while Jonathan Engstrom will be assisting Johnson with the girls' team. Johnson said that he only has one direction he can go with the team. "Since this is my first season, I really don't have anywhere to go but up, and that's what I plan on doing," he said. "I hope to help the girls achieve their goals for the season, win games and have some fun."