Lady Saints sport seasoned teamPublished 10:22pm Thursday, March 20, 2014
The Nansemond-Suffolk Academy girls’ soccer team has some distinct reasons for entering this season with confidence. It features a roster of seasoned players, some of which have extensive experience as teammates outside of school.
The Lady Saints benefit from not losing many players off of the 2013 squad, with a major exception being stopper Kelly Crossman, who graduated.
Returning NSA head coach Sue Starkey acknowledged Crossman was strong defensively for her team, but said, “This year we have some strength coming up, as well, so hopefully it will equal out.”
Last season, the Lady Saints finished up with an overall record of 6-10-2 and a 3-5 regular season record in the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools. NSA lost in the first round of the TCIS tournament.
“I think we’ll hopefully do better than last year,” Starkey said. “Beyond that, I hate to predict because I don’t know what the other teams have.”
She is excited by what her squad has, though, with five seniors this year accompanied by five sophomores, four freshmen and two juniors.
“We’ve got a more experienced team this year,” she said, noting that many of the girls play soccer year-around with travel teams. Some of the girls are even on the same travel team.
“My seniors, four of them play year-around together, so that’ll be nice,” Starkey said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever really had this happen.”
She expects all five of her seniors to be standouts for NSA this year.
Forward Darcy King, who was an all-conference second team selection in 2013, has led the team in scoring the past two years. She will once again return as the Lady Saints’ go-to scorer.
Fellow senior forward Morgan Davis ranked among the team’s top scorers last season, and she will also be back.
“I do expect a lot from Morgan,” Starkey said.
Senior Montana Bieder joins the team for the first time at Nansemond-Suffolk, and the coach already likes what she has seen from her in pre-season training.
“She definitely has a lot of hustle,” Starkey said. “She sees the field well.”
Bieder could possibly be placed in the middle or back on defense, Starkey said.
Senior Laura Fisher will return and will primarily help NSA in back.
“She can play up front or middle, but she’s a strong defender,” Starkey said.
The coach’s daughter, senior Hannah Starkey, recently had knee surgery as a result of an injury suffered during basketball season. Sue Starkey hopes to have her back, patrolling the midfield, at some point during the season.
Coach Starkey also highlighted a couple of juniors that are strong players and have been with the team for several years. The first was Maya Venkataraman, who was named to the all-conference second team last year and will help shore up the defense.
The second was Chloe Tillman, who used to play goalkeeper but is quite versatile.
“Her strength is being able to be placed all around,” Starkey said.
The coach spoke to the challenges posed by the weather, which has delayed the start of the season.
“It’s anxiety-inducing for a variety of reasons,” Starkey said, noting how it makes it difficult to properly prepare her players. “Hopefully they’re coming in conditioned and ready to go, but they still have to get a feel for the ball,” and they need to gel with each other on the field.
Starkey sees the biggest challenge for her team as being Cape Henry Collegiate School, a premier squad in the TCIS.
After two canceled games due to weather and barring further changes to the schedule, the Lady Saints will visit Portsmouth Christian School this afternoon to start their season.