Archive for Wednesday, March 28, 2007

THS girls soccer ready for debut

Coach welcomes 38 players for inaugural year

March 28, 2007

Encouragement was high Monday on the soccer practice field west of Tonganoxie High School.

Players were yelling to their teammates from the sidelines when they made good passes. Players could be heard chatting with teammates about where to place the ball and so forth as well.

And at one point, players on the sideline broke into song.

It's a new era in THS athletics and the soccer field is abuzz with anticipation.

Last year, the Tonganoxie school board approved the athletics department's newest sport -- girls soccer.

On Tuesday, the squad played in its inaugural game -- a home contest against Bonner Springs, another team in its first season fielding a girls soccer squad.

The game did not meet The Mirror's deadline, but the team definitely has a presence -- 38 girls came out for the first season of Chieftain girls soccer.

"We were kind of surprised," said THS coach Ken Lott, who also coaches the boys squad in the fall.

Tonganoxie has a few girls who played in coed ball with the boys team in the fall seasons. Under Kansas State High School Activities Association rules, if a school adds girls soccer for the spring season, girls cannot play alongside the boys in the fall season.

Those players who competed with the boys haven't played high school-sanctioned soccer since fall 2005.

However, they've played summer ball and have made preparations for the spring season.

"I think we're just in a learning phase right now," Lott said. "But I would say there's a good six to eight girls on there who are attuned to the coed, but we'll have to wait and see how they'll adapt to the all-girls team."

This year's senior class includes Laura Flores, Jessica Herrington, Crystal Jordan, Laura Schuster, Shannon Smith, Jennifer Wagner and Bailey Wetta.

Players such as Jordan Gagne, Addie Phelps, Sarah Flaherty, Cally Owsley, Ashli Koch and Smith have been doing well in the preseason. And, the team includes Alexa Moreno, who formerly played at Lawrence-Free State.

"Everybody else is doing well, but those are the ones who stand out," Lott said.

These players also competed alongside the boys players in the fall of 2005: Katie Kolman, Lindsay Gonser, Ray Lynn Laster, Phelps, Owsley and Wetta.

Overall, Lott said the core of the team is "pretty competitive and very athletic."

"And they're coachable," Lott said. "And that's even better."

Many of these Chieftains grew up with soccer through the Tonganoxie Recreation Commission but now have the opportunity to play again on their own team in high school.

"They're excited about having a new sport, and they played in rec league and now it's in high school," Lott said.

After a few weeks of practice, Lott is ready to see his team compete against other squads.

In fact, this will be the first season the Kaw Valley League will have an official soccer league. With the addition of Tonganoxie and Bonner Springs, the league has enough schools to add soccer as an official league sport.

THS and Bonner Springs will join Mill Valley, Immaculata, Basehor-Linwood, Lansing and Piper as KVL soccer teams.

The latter five programs formerly competed in the Northeast Kansas Soccer League with other metro area schools.

Now, the Chieftains are in the mix and hope to make a splash in their first season.

"It's a well-rounded team," Lott said of his squad. "Although they may be inexperienced in some areas, they're well-rounded as far as certain duties with goalies, positional play."

The team will play again Monday at Mill Valley before coming back home for an April 5 game against De Soto.

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