Balanced NRHS sees opportunities

Published 10:48 pm Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Nansemond River High School senior Karin Kleps will provide important leadership in the Lady Warriors’ defensive efforts this season.

Nansemond River High School senior Karin Kleps will provide important leadership in the Lady Warriors’ defensive efforts this season.

The Nansemond River High School girls’ soccer head coach Darryl Yandle has high expectations for this year’s team both inside and outside the new Ironclad Conference.

The Lady Warriors lost a lot of quality senior defenders from last year’s squad, but the composition of this year’s team has proven to be quite strong.

“It’s actually ideal right now,” Yandle said. “There are four or five in each class.”

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Nansemond River finished around .500 in 2013. While Yandle indicated a challenging schedule, including Southeastern District teams and regional powers, could leave it in a similar state this year, he has a clear eye on NR asserting local dominance and manifesting overall growth from last year.

He said he plans on his team “winning the conference. Got to get out there and make it happen, though.”

He added, “I actually plan on doing better against the old Southeastern District teams, being more competitive.”

Commenting on the Virginia High School League’s realignment, Yandle said, “The conference is definitely nowhere near as strong as the old Southeastern District.”

As far as the Ironclad is concerned, he said the Suffolk teams pose the biggest threat.

“Their soccer’s been getting better,” he said.

But he anticipates the Lady Warriors’ stiffest competition to come from regional opponents on the schedule like Tabb High School, Grafton High School and Jamestown High School.

Jailene Cartagena, Taylor Flick, Sydney Short and Courtney White will be missed on defense this year, as will Sara Gallagher in the midfield, though she blew out her knee early last year.

But Yandle has a new group of seniors that he said will lead the team.

Karin Kleps will play at the sweeper position, while Cassidy Feldt will be either the stopper or defensive midfielder.

Fellow senior Emily Leverone hurt her knee last year, but is back and will play either as a forward or attacking midfielder.

Senior Dawn Wright will anchor the midfield.

“We’ve got three strong freshmen that came in, which probably will end up starting,” Yandle said. “That I have three is not common.”

He said they stood out because of their combination of skill and athleticism, composure and vision.

The trio includes Kamarie Jewette, who will either play midfielder or forward, Daijah Norris, who is a strong forward and contributor on the varsity basketball team, and Starr Robinson, who is a midfielder.

Yandle highlighted his team’s biggest challenge as avoiding something that creates division on the team — jealousy, particularly when certain players begin racking up goals and having success.

“Everybody wants that, but it seems like just the forwards get it,” he said. Consequently, he said it is his job to celebrate the rest of the team, emphasizing how everyone contributes to the team’s overall success along with the offensive players.

“We’ve got to work the ball up to them for them to have their chance,” he said.

The Lady Warriors begin their regular season at home on March 18 against Grassfield High School.