Beware of the Lady Bulldogs

Published 9:25 pm Thursday, March 26, 2015

The King’s Fork High School girls’ soccer team experienced a breakout season in 2014, and it appears primed to become one of the best teams in the state at the Group 4A level in 2015.

“Our goal is to win our conference, and our focus is to develop the team into a legitimate state championship contender this year,” said new King’s Fork coach Mike Marston.

King's Fork High School junior midfielder Logan Montel competes against visiting Grassfield High School during Monday's 2-1 overtime victory for the Lady Bulldogs. (Caroline LaMagna photo)

King’s Fork High School junior midfielder Logan Montel competes against visiting Grassfield High School during Monday’s 2-1 overtime victory for the Lady Bulldogs. (Caroline LaMagna photo)

Despite stumbling in their most recent game on Tuesday, the Lady Bulldogs have started the season 2-1.

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They defeated host Deep Creek High School 3-1 in their season opener on March 17. On Monday, King’s Fork hosted Grassfield High School, a highly regarded team in the area, and toppled it in overtime by the score of 2-1.

Sophomore forward Cydney Nichols provided both goals for the Lady Bulldogs to give them their first win over the Lady Grizzlies.

The next day, King’s Fork fell behind 3-0 against host Great Bridge High School but rallied on goals from Nichols and senior forward Lindsay Ransome before falling 3-2.

“I think it’s really going to be an evolution,” Marston said of the Lady Bulldogs’ start to this season.

He said he thinks the team will be its own biggest obstacle to success this season. It needs to successfully blend players’ varying levels of ability together to form one cohesive unit.

Some players have high-level club experience, while a handful is really inexperienced.

Marston knows it will take some time to get the blend right.

“We are absolutely in a marathon; it is not a sprint,” he said.

But he has had significant foresight regarding the promise that this particular group holds.

“This is really the year that I had marked on my calendar for a while that was going to set the stage for the whole program, I thought,” Marston said.

He was assistant coach last season to Jason Stump, and when Stump changed vocations, it led to an open door for Marston to apply.

He started out coaching soccer in the Suffolk Youth Athletic Association around 10 years ago, and he currently coaches a successful club team, which features several players from King’s Fork’s roster.

This year, the Lady Bulldogs have retained all of the many impact players from their 2014 run, which was their best season in school history. They went 11-5-1 overall, became the first Suffolk team to beat the Hickory High School Lady Hawks and advanced as far as the regional quarterfinals.

The roster presently includes five seniors, three juniors, five sophomores and two freshmen. Many of those players were honored by the conference last year.

Marston said King’s Fork is a defense-first team, and the backbone of that defense is sophomore center defender Skylar Wall, a first team all-conference selection.

Working with her will be sophomore Nia Nickerson, a second team all-conference defender, and junior Carlee Morse, who received all-conference honorable mention.

Senior captain Hannah Washburn, who was a second team all-conference midfielder, is switching to goalkeeper.

“She understood that this is the position where she could help the team best,” Marston said.

The Lady Bulldogs’ midfield includes two first team all-conference players: junior Logan Montel and sophomore Rebecca Washburn.

King’s Fork’s outside midfielders this year include junior Emma Marston and sophomore Alyssa Vick, both All-Ironclad second team honorees.

And the offense is spearheaded by two first-team selections — Cydney Nichols and Lindsay Ransome.

A second-team selection on defense, senior Rachel Gist is a captain on the team and both a defender and midfielder.

Additionally, freshmen Ashley Bido and Hannah Marston have earned significant minutes this season on an already deep team.

King’s Fork (2-1) hosts Indian River High School tonight.