The new season in local high school girls soccer will be new in a lot of different ways.
There are new coaches at Coahulla Creek High School and at North Murray, and the Christian Heritage girls will be making a new journey in a new league.
But there are several constants as well. Dalton’s girls are looking for a return to the playoffs after behind the only team to make the Georgia High School Association playoffs last season. Southeast Whitfield coach Kevin Kettenring remains the coach of the Lady Raiders, but he will have additional duties as the new coach of the Raiders as well.
Coahulla Creek’s Eric Parker will also be pulling double duty as the coach of the Colts and Lady Colts.
While the Lady Lions face an uphill campaign in their first year playing against GHSA competition, coach Adam Bolin said the climb would have been steep whether in the GHSA or in the Georgia Independent Schools Association.
“In general, whether we were in the GISA or the GHSA, it would be a challenge just because we lost eight seniors and they were a big part of the team with experience and leadership,” Bolin said. “It is a process to rebuild and regroup and move forward.”
But moving forward means there is little comfort in last year’s 11-3 campaign in which Christian Heritage advance to the GISA state quarterfinals.
The Lady Lions are in Area 7-A with Darlington, Mt. Paran, North Cobb Christian, Trion, Walker and Whitefield Academy. The top three teams from the area will advance to the state playoffs, with the regular-season champion receiving a bye in the first round
“We have a very young team, but we have a good corps of girls to build on and come back,” Bolin said. “We are excited about the transition to the GHSA and are excited about the challenges to come.”
Molly Crawford was a GISA All-State selection last year, and the junior will be counted on to step into the leadership role from her center midfielder position.
“She is very much a leader, and she has been contributing in a lot of really big ways,” Bolin said.
The Lady Lions have also been shorthanded in practice as a good chunk of the roster is either on the basketball court of involved in other activities right now. Goalie Sarah Massengale, forward Jordan Suddeth and defender Ransley Defoor are the main returners missing, while two-year part-time starter Kamie Amos, who is already out at practice, will assume a bigger role this season as the starting forward.
“Our numbers are small right now, and we have basketball and cheerleading going on, so some of the girls will take a little time to get in soccer shape,” Bolin said. “We will see what happens, and once we get them out, we should have 14 to 17 total on the roster.”
Christian Heritage opens the season March 2 at home versus The Walker School.