GIRLS SOCCER: Lady Bearcats looking for district repeat

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Despite expected and unexpected losses, Anderson should be strong

By John Herndon

Rebuilding or reloading?


Both could be used to describe Anderson County girls' soccer for 2013. Both would be correct.

The Lady Bearcats reached won the 30th District title and advanced to the Eighth Region semi-finals last year, but lost four seniors along with several key underclassmen who elected to by-pass the sport for various reasons.

So why is Anderson coach Jason Earnest smiling? It's because he has a talented group coming on, one that he feels has the potential to be very good. And the Lady Bearcats are the likely favorite to defend their district crown.

The Lady Bearcats will be young and have some gaping holes to fill, but they still should be very formidable. A 6-0 shellacking of Marion County in a scrimmage last week showed just how good Anderson can be.

“We scored early and that hurt our intensity,” Earnest said. “We had a letdown defensively. Our intensity level dropped really fast.”

That is common with youth, and the Lady Bearcats have some talented freshmen and sophomores who must come through if they are to defend their district title.

Gone are Andrea Melanson, Caitlyn Maillet, Brittany Frith and Morgan Abner, all of whom graduated. Abner is now playing at the University of Pikeville.

Also gone are leading scorer Makenzie Cann, starting goalie Alyssa Rogers and Tiffany Yount, who had given Anderson a veteran presence and solid play. All elected to not play the sport their senior year.

“Makenzie Cann told us she wanted to play but she has verbally committed to play basketball at the University of Cincinnnati,” Earnest said. “She is working out with a trainer. Makenzie led us in scoring and assists last year and was a great presence on the field.”

Anderson jelled at the end of the season and won the district in convincing fashion.

The Lady Bearcats whipped Shelby County, 3-0, in the district opener, then defeated Spencer County, 2-0, for the title. After trouncing Henry County in the regional opener, Anderson fell to highly-regarded Oldham County, 3-1, in the semifinals.

Anderson finished 10-11-3 against its normal rugged schedule. Telling was the fact that Anderson was 7-2 against Eighth Region foes, with both losses coming to Oldham, the eventual regional champ.

“At the end of the year, our girls were really playing hard and playing well as a team,” Earnest said. “They cared about each other.”

The Lady Bearcats embark on the real schedule tonight, Wednesday, Aug. 21, when they host Harrison County. Saturday, the Lady Bearcats host Mercer County.

“We tied Harrison County, 0-0, last year,” Earnest remembered. “They are pretty strong. They are about like us. It isn't like playing South Oldham, but Harrison County will be a test.

“Mercer County beat us pretty bad (3-0) last year.”

Earnest mentions South Oldham, as a reference point since the Lady Bearcats scrimmaged South on August 10 in the Shelby County Soccerama. That practice game ended in a 2-2 tie.

“South Oldham was a very fast-paced team,” Earnest said. “We played up to their level. We took care of the ball really well. Our touch passing was really sharp and clean. It was a fun game to watch.”

Earnest has put a premium on ball security in 2013. They Lady Bearcats are learning, but still have a way to be where they want to be.

He feels good, however, that most of the offense will go through center midfielder Niki Curtsinger, who might be a soccer equivalent to a scoring point guard. The senior is a threat to find the net and deftly distributes the ball to her teammates.

A year ago, Curtsinger did not score a goal and had just one assist, but Earnest says that is because she was more of a defender last season. He has brought Curtsinger up into Cann's old spot. Cann scored 16 times and had 9 assists in 22 games.

“Niki is, by far, our most dominant player on the field,” Earnest says. “She is strong, She is smart. You know when she is on the field and you know when she is not. She is that kind of presence on the field.

Curtsinger will likely be passing to sophomores Madeline Wilson and Allie Johnson, both of whom are very talented. Wilson scored three times against Marion.

“Madeline has a knack for putting the ball into the net,” Earnest says.

The mid-field is solid with sophomores Tori Estrada, Autumn Miller and Julie Paden all playing big roles. Meanwhile, defenders Lindsay Chelf and Mary Lee give the Lady Bearcats solid play in front of the net.

Earnest says Chelf, a sophomore, is one of the Lady Bearcats' strongest players while Lee returns after missing all of last season with an injury.

“Mary will be the first to tell you that ths has lost a lot of speed,” Earnest says, “but she is determined to make the play. She is smart and savvy and plays really hard.”

Senior Carrie Isaacs, a two-year starter, returns, as does classmate Sandra Nava. Juniors Tess Taylor and Claire Prater, who saw major varsity time last year, also are back.

Rogers' departure left a huge hole in the net, but Earnest says freshmen Billie Clark and Hannah Drury are fighting it out for the starting goalie spot. “We don't have any other options,” Earnest says. “We will throw them into the fire, but they have done very well so far.”

Thus far, Anderson is cautiously optimistic. Earnest feels his team has potential but knows the district is solid.

Earnest is optimistic. After his team was trounced by Louisville Manual in the Blue Grass State Games, he made some adjusments and says his team is ready.

How ready the Lady Bearcats really are will be on display when they open with Harrison County Wednesday night.


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