Small Lady Knights team preparesPublished 10:37pm Thursday, March 14, 2013
Suffolk Christian Academy, formerly First Baptist Christian School, will field a girls’ soccer team now called the Lady Knights that is small and young, but eager to reclaim the conference championship the school earned in 2011.
Suffolk Christian opted for a name change after a recent expansion that put it under the governance of several Suffolk churches.
Stacy Pauley returns as the girls’ soccer head coach, guiding a roster that has 12 true varsity players, but is now merged with the junior varsity roster. The team will play both a JV schedule and a varsity schedule. Its two upperclassmen players will be held out of JV games unless the opposing team has upperclassmen, as well. Conversely, in varsity games, many of the youngest players will be used only sparingly.
“They’re a good, solid team,” Pauley said. “I have a couple more homeschoolers this season, which they’re all phenomenal, so I think we’re going to have a pretty strong team; it’s just a matter of getting everybody to click with each other on the field.”
The Lady Knights lost five players from last year’s team, which finished third in the Seven Cities Athletic Conference tournament at the end of the season. A contingent of experienced players returns and has proven invaluable in terms of leadership.
Pauley admits the first couple of games this season will be learning experiences. Without any preseason scrimmages to work with, Pauley was able to take the combined roster and use it in a unique way — she placed the true varsity team on one side and the younger players on the other.
“It’s actually worked out well where the varsity girls could really help the younger ones learn to stay in position, learn what they really need to do,” she said.
Keeping her center midfielders in position and declining the temptation to drift outside to help the wings will probably be the biggest challenge this year, Pauley said.
Several of the players expected to be standouts for Suffolk Christian are concentrated on the defensive side of the field, because, Pauley said, “My defense is where I build my team.”
Danielle Stauffer, the lone senior on the Lady Knights squad, will be relied upon at the sweeper position and goalkeeper, if need be.
“I can put her anywhere, but I tend not to move her out of the defense unless I absolutely feel comfortable,” Pauley said.
Next to Stauffer will be junior Jenny Rombs at right fullback.
“That’s where she feels most comfortable, so that’s where she’s most effective,” Pauley said.
Sophomore Zoe Waddell will be playing stopper, center fullback, and she is learning to play goalkeeper, a position she may occupy next year when it becomes vacant.
Freshman Elizabeth Arnold will likely complete the defensive line.
“She’s a homeschooler that plays on a premier select team and she’s coming in and will also be my left defender, but I can also put her in the midfield,” Pauley said. “So, she’s a strong player.”
Victoria Twisdale, a homeschooler in the eighth grade, will play up front. Pauley expects her and seventh-grade homeschooler Caitlyn Benton to be the team’s leading goal-scorers.
Sophomore Julia Jackson will be the team’s goalkeeper, but this will be her last season at the school, as she will be moving to Florida. Pauley said she is a strong goalkeeper, and the team hopes she will be healthy throughout the season.
Despite the challenges, Pauley sees success on the horizon for the Lady Knights if they can play up to their potential.
“They’re capable of winning the championship, as long as they play the game like I’ve seen them play,” she said.
Suffolk Christian begins the varsity regular season on March 21 at Peninsula Catholic High School.