NR relies on experience

Published 9:19 pm Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Nansemond River High School girls’ soccer team has an experienced core returning and hopes to improve on its finish from last season.

Nansemond River’s season ended last year in the first round of the region tournament. The Lady Warriors faced a tough Maury High School team that eventually went on to make a run in the state tournament.

This year, Nansemond River will be under a different direction with Coach Michael Swerda at the helm. He returns a team that has three four-year starters on it as well as some exciting freshmen expected to contribute.

Email newsletter signup

“We have a good mix of starting seniors and younger players,” Swerda said. “I think we are going to have a big year. A lot is going to depend on our defense, but I feel good.”

The Lady Warriors will be young on the defensive side; however, they are likely to score a lot of goals. Overall, they return standouts in Sarah Rhiel, Sophie Mitchell, Saleena Lynch and Hayley Russell. Swerda has familiarity with this team even though it’s his first year as head coach, as he has coached some of the girls on the team in club soccer.

“I have a comfort level with the players,” he said. “I have a comfort level with the community and with the school. So, I think this whole process for us will go well.”

Because the Lady Warriors have reached the region tournament the last couple of seasons, that’s where it starts for them in Swerda’s first-year expectations. He hopes the team can make the region tournament once again and make a run.

“I think we have the talent to do that,” he said. “We are young, but we feel like with the experience we have, we can make some good things happen. If we stay healthy, we can make some noise against some of these bigger schools.”

Nansemond River will get its season started Tuesday when they take on Warwick High School on the road.