Young team hopes to surprise
Published 10:47 pm Thursday, March 21, 2013
The girls’ soccer team at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy has a seasoned core amidst its youth that head coach Sue Starkey sees capable of building on last year’s older squad.
The 2013 Lady Saints feature only one senior and an even split among the other three classifications — five freshmen, sophomores and juniors apiece.
The team lost four players to graduation from last year.
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“I lost two very strong defenders and one that also came on as a keeper, and then I lost one girl that played as a striker up front,” Starkey said.
Senior Kelly Crossman is expected to take the lead on the team.
“She definitely is strong as a stopper, and my girls that play year-round definitely add a dynamic in there to help getting the ball around, knowing how the game goes and the flow,” Starkey said. “So that would be Morgan Davis, Chloe Tillman, Hannah Starkey and Laura Fisher.”
Starkey said she is relying on Fisher to shore up the defense after the graduation of twins Brittany and Megan Bass.
“We’re playing with the back a bit,” Starkey said. “So I put Laura Fisher in the back, and Chloe is my alternate keeper, but I also can bring her (to) forward mid, and probably can even put her in the back, if I need to.”
“Hannah and Morgan primarily play in the middle or as a forward,” Starkey said. “Again, they can go in the back, if need be.”
Coach Starkey acknowledged the crucial nature of a strong midfield and defense to putting a team in scoring position.
“Without a doubt, the midfield has to be strong to be able to choreograph or direct the plays and to be able to control that middle,” she said. “However, I’m a strong believer in the defense, and I always start off pushing defense.”
With many of her experienced players holding down those areas of the field, Starkey described her team’s biggest challenge.
“The strength of opponent, obviously, is going to be a factor, but other than the strong ones, I’d say our taking our shots and shooting, getting the ball in the back of the net — that’ll be the biggest challenge,” Starkey said.
It is a challenge she hopes junior Darcy King is up for. King is a year-around player who Starkey said “definitely can control any spot on the field.”
“Again, I’m thinking of Kelly too, but Darcy’s probably one of my strongest players out there,” Starkey said.
Last year, King was the team’s best scorer, though a majority of the Lady Saints’ roster scored at least once.
“That doesn’t happen often,” Starkey said. “I don’t know if that will this year. We’re hoping here that Darcy kicks it in and we’re going to get those shots in. She’s doing a wonderful job of dishing off the ball, the combination passes.”
NSA is three games into the 2013 season, starting out with a 2-1 loss to Hampton Roads Academy, a 1-1 tie with Walsingham Academy and an 8-0 loss to Cape Henry Collegiate School on Tuesday.
The Tuesday game served as a reminder that the conference has dangerous competition that can be surprising from year to year. The Lady Saints had beaten Cape Henry the last couple of years, but ran into three new players who came from premier teams. Given the level of difficulty on the schedule, Starkey hopes to finish at .500.
“There’s such a difference when it comes to the private schools,” she said. “It could vary easily, so I’m hoping 50 percent, would be good. I’d like better, obviously, but there’re a couple of real dynamic teams in TCIS that are hard to beat.”
As Nansemond-Suffolk (0-2-1, 0-2-1) continues to develop its young talent, it too may have the chance to surprise opponents. The team travels to play Currituck County High School in Barco, N.C., on Friday.