Patriot Girls' Soccer Starts Season Monday
Ask coach Larry Martin or one of his veteran players what impresses them most about this year's Pinecrest girls' soccer team, and they are likely to give the same answer.
"We have a lot of quick players," says senior Latanya Cain, who has scored a team-record 112 goals in her three-year varsity career. "I think if we work hard, we can go far."
The boys' soccer coach at Pinecrest for the last 13 years, Martin begins his second campaign at the helm of the girls' program. He's got 13 returnees from last year's squad that won its 10th conference championship in a row, finishing with an overall record of 17-6-1.
The Patriots are scheduled to open the season at Rocky Mount on Monday.
Cain, who will continue her soccer career at N.C. State, scored 32 goals and earned all-state and conference player of the year honors last season. Other all-conference first-team selections returning are junior midfielder Lyndsey Anderson (12 goals, nine assists) and senior defender Caitlin McArdle.
Also back are second-team picks in midfielder Morgan Maples (nine goals, five assists) and defender Sarah White, both seniors.
The team's impressive senior class also includes midfielders Amber Fernandez, Lisa Hopkins and Christina Klug, and last year's backup at the goalkeeper position, Keely Harbour. Other juniors are Katie Letsinger, a returnee, and varsity newcomers, Ashley Sweeting and Ellyse Szewczak.
The five sophomores and three freshmen on Martin's roster have helped increase the speed quotient and depth of the team.
"I think our strength is going to be team speed," Martin says, "and it's a team speed that won't wane as the game goes on. As I look at these kids, I could almost take them to the conference cross country championship and we would be in good shape. These are kids that can run quite a ways."
Attacking players Bailey Pages and Jill McIlwain, and defender Rebecca Dupre are three sophomores that were called up from the junior varsity team late last season and had an immediate impact. Pages contributed nine goals (four against Douglas Byrd) and two assists in just six matches. First-time varsity players as sophs are Rachel Dokich and Sarah Senior.
The freshman trio is defensively oriented. Claire Epling is an outside defender, Kate Hieronymus is a defensive midfielder and Sarah Dejak is a goalkeeper.
"I think the new players will add a different twist to our style of play," says McArdle, who is committed to play soccer at West Point in the fall. "It will be interesting to see how the team comes together."
Among the seven seniors that graduated from last year's squad were forward Molly Lynch, who scored 28 goals, and defender Marissa Dotson. Both were all-conference and all-region selections.
"We lost some good kids last year," Martin says, "but it's exciting to see all the young kids coming in. It's going to be a year of developing relationships and bonding together."
This year's schedule features home games against Union Pines and The O'Neal School.
Feb. 25 -- at Rocky Mount; 29 -- at Hoggard
March 5 -- at Lumberton; 10 -- Douglas Byrd; 12 -- at Scotland; 17 -- Richmond; 19 -- at Hoke; 26 -- Union Pines; 29 -- Wilson Hunt (neutral site); 31 -- Jack Britt
April 2 -- at Westover; 7 -- at Seventy-First; 9 -- at Douglas Byrd; 14 -- Scotland; 16 -- at Richmond; 21 -- Hoke; 23 -- at Jack Britt; 25 -- O'Neal; 28 -- Westover; 30 -- Seventy-First
May 7 -- state playoffs begin.
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