|IAC GIRLS SOCCER: LAGY TIGERS LOOKING TO RISE TO THE CHALLENGE IN 2018 (2018-08-27)
By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
TIOGA CENTER — With heavy losses to graduation, and the unexpected loss of one of its best players, second-year Tioga girls soccer coach Jim Walsh is expecting a challenging season for the Lady Tigers in 2018.
“We were young last year, even with several seniors,” said Walsh. “We’re even younger this season, and don’t have a senior on the roster.”
Tioga is coming off a 2-10 season, but was competitive in several of their losses thanks to the outstanding play of 8th-grade keeper Kylie Zimmerman. Unfortunately for Walsh and the Lady Tigers, Zimmerman’s family moved to Florida just a week before preseason began.
Walsh said sophomore Eve Wood and freshman Abagail Foley will both see time in net this season.
“They will probably split time at keeper.
“(Losing Kylie Zimmerman) was definitely a hit, but so far (Wood and Foley) have looked pretty good,” said Walsh.
“Abagail (Foley) is small, but very athletic. I see good reaction time out of her, and decent hands,” noted Walsh. “Eve (Wood) is not as quick as Abagail, but she’s athletic, has good hands, and has good instincts.
“They both have good attributes, but they’re inexperienced there so it’s a huge challenge for us,” he added.
Sophomore Cassie Birney will “lead the defense,” while freshman Haley Champlin, sophomores Amaya Onofre, and Jenna Smolinsky, and Wood or Foley will see time on defense in Tioga’s 4-3-3 formation.
Sophomores Destini Sweet and Madison Howey, and junior Bailey Elston will man the midfield positions.
Juniors Mackenzie Macumber and Jocelyn Bradley, and freshman Rachel Feeko will start at forwards.
“The midfielders and forwards are inter-changeable, although Macumber will definitely be up at forward,” said Walsh.
With just 12 players on the roster, depth is a concern.
“Hopefully, the conditioning went well,” said Walsh. “The girls are going to have to go 60 minutes. We have no other choice.
“And, we need to avoid injuries,” Walsh added.
Another concern is putting goals on the scoreboard.
“Our ability to score this year should be improved, but the key will be the keeper and the defense,” said Walsh. “Can the defense control the ball, get it to the midfield, and then up to our scorers?
“If our forwards can get the ball, they can score; transition and getting the ball to our forwards will be the key,” he added.
Despite the lack of a senior, and with just three juniors on the roster, Walsh says the Lady Tigers have a lot of experience.
“We’re young, but we have a lot of veterans on the team,” said Walsh.
“Destini Sweet is only a sophomore, but she started as an 8th-grader, and knows the game extremely well. She needs to be a leader on the field for us, and help us maintain a positive attitude.
“Mackenzie Macumber really came on for us last year as a striker,” he noted. “She’s aggressive and a go-getter, and came out this year in tremendous shape.
“Cassie Birney, Madison Howey, Eve Wood, Bailey Elston, and Jocelyn Bradley have all played a lot of soccer for us,” Walsh added.
Walsh believes the future is bright, but see this year as a challenge.
“The season is going to be a challenge, and every game is going to be a challenge,” he said. “My goal is to keep the team together, keep them battling, and keep a positive mental attitude.
“I can’t really put a win-loss expectation out there, I just want this group to continue to improve,” added Walsh.
Tioga opens the season this afternoon at home against Moravia.
CHANGES IN IAC SOUTH SMALL SCHOOL: SVEC, the merged S-VE / Candor squads, has been bumped up to Class B by New York state, and has been moved up to the IAC South Large School Division, while Watkins Glen has dropped into the Small School ranks.
ON THE SMALL SCHOOL SOUTH: “O-M is going to be very good this year,” said Walsh. “They were strong last year, and return nearly everyone this season. They are the cream of the crop, and the team to beat in the Small School.
“On the North side, Groton is the team to beat,” he added.
IN PHOTO: Tioga’s Destini Sweet is congratulated by Jocelyn Bradley after scoring a goal during a game last year. … VSR STOCK PHOTO.
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