NSA soccer seeks turnaround

Published 8:41 pm Saturday, April 14, 2012

By Titus Mohler
Correspondent

After a rough start, a calm confidence has begun to grow amongst the NSA girls’ varsity soccer team.

The Lady Saints are currently 3-7-1, but they have won two out of their last three games.

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“We started a little slow,” head coach Sue Starkey said. “We had public schools we were playing against, which is kind of hard. You know, private schools, we just don’t have the numbers like they do.”

The season opened with a difficult tournament in which NSA lost two games and was forced to forego another due to weather. That game was declared a 0-0 tie.

Members of the Nansemond-Suffolk Academy soccer team practice on Friday as their coach, Sue Starkey, watches their progress. The Lady Saints got off to a rough start this season, but they’ve turned things around during the past couple of games. They hold a 3-7-1 record currently.

“We lost a couple we probably shouldn’t have, but since then they’ve really picked up,” Starkey said.

Coming into this season, Starkey was a bit uncertain, but she figured her young team would be strong enough to put as many games in the win column as those that would end up in the loss column.

“I was a little hesitant,” she said. “We lost a couple girls that were strong, but I pulled up some that were equally strong.”

The seniors are the leaders on the team, but some of the younger players make up a group of girls that play soccer year around.

“I’ve been doing this for 10 years,” Starkey said. “So for many, many years you might only have one or two that play year-round select ball. Now, we’ve got a handful of them, which helps.”

The presence of year-round players means Starkey can focus on developing more complex skills, rather than having to start from square one.

The team features four seniors, two juniors, five sophomores, four freshman, and two eighth graders.

A list of standout players is topped by striker Darcy King, who is the team’s leading scorer. She held this same distinction last year, becoming one of the top scorers in the TCIS as a freshman.

Starkey also highlighted the strong offensive play of Darcy’s younger sister Katie, an eighth-grade starting striker for the team.

On defense, Starkey spotlighted a couple of seniors.

“I have the two Bass twins in the back — not even five feet tall — that are just tremendous fullbacks,” Starkey said.

Brittany and Megan Bass are two of the team captains for the Lady Saints.

Even though she does not possess as much soccer experience as some of the other girls, senior Sarah Baldwin has made a strong contribution to the team this year as goalkeeper.

“Overall, they’re just a really great bunch of girls,” Starkey said. “I (couldn’t) ask for better, I really couldn’t. I enjoy every one of them.”

Starkey has her eye on areas the team needs to improve to balance out the win-loss column by season’s end.

“We’re moving up the back well, but we’ve got to go wide, we’ve got to not panic, we have to slow down, we have to pass it, and shoot, shoot, shoot,” she said. “We don’t shoot enough, and we don’t shoot accurately. We miss the frame, so that’s what we’ve been working on a lot.”

Some of Starkey’s greatest challenges have been to help the girls cultivate a confidence and knowledge of when to pass, how to identify through balls, and how to run through the ball. They have demonstrated an ability to do these things during team practices.

“To be able to perform (those things), smoothly, under pressure, that’s a biggie,” she said. “It’ll be a challenge. If they really play like they played the other day and get it together and relax, we’ll be fine.”