By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Shady Spring’s girls soccer team was hit hard over the summer by graduation, defections and other problems.
Fortunately, coach Rachel Kincaid has four outstanding seniors returning to lead the Tigers into their second season of Class AAA ball.
All-Staters Lindsey Thompson and Brooke Cogar, and very dependable Lauren Solock and Carlie Killmer are crucial, not just for scoring or defense, but for their leadership.
“The older players are helping freshmen coming along, and the freshmen have a drive and want to learn,” Kincaid said. “They go hard at it all the time. Our team dynamics are good.”
There are definitely some holes that need filled. Forward and second-leading scorer Jade Oar graduated, as did defenders Alexis DeMoss, Rebecca Graham and Megan Davis. Another starter, Sable Meadows, will graduate early this year.
Goalkeeper Christian Deemer transferred to Woodrow Wilson, and defender Ali Kominski is now at Greenbrier East. Other players were lost because of grades or not wanting to play anymore.
Kincaid isn’t panicking. She faced adversity last season, her first as head coach, as the Tigers battled injuries to finish 9-11-1.
Shady rarely had its best 11 players, and sometimes even its top seven or eight, on the field at the same time.
“We did well, but we definitely struggled because of our injury situation,” Kincaid said. “They put a hurt on us, one after another, after another.”
Fortunately, Thompson alone can make up for a multitude of ills with her all-around play.
Last season she scored 38 goals, including the 100th of her career, dished out 11 assists and played strong defense from her center-midfielder position.
“Lindsey knows the game well. She sees the play before it happens, and she will talk to the others and tell them where she wants the ball to go,” Kincaid said. “She’s like a point guard in basketball — the one who makes the calls.
“She’s also come back more physically in shape than in previous years. She put in a lot of time over the summer, and came in conditioned and ready to go.”
Thompson’s first-team Class AAA All-State selection will also earn her double-team, and sometimes triple-team coverage this season from opponents.
Kincaid is very aware of that and has worked to come up with other scorers and playmakers.
“I don’t want to rely just on Lindsey,” Kincaid said. “It’s very important for other people to step up. Other people are going to have to handle the ball so she can get open.”
At striker, the Tigers will have Solock, a senior, and Hannah Thompson, Lindsey’s freshman sister.
Solock has an accurate shot and is good on corner kicks. Hannah Thompson is quick, has good ballhandling skills and works well with her sister.
Killmer partners well in the center with Lindsey Thompson and also has a nice shot.
Cogar will anchor the defense. Known for her strong, physical play, she was named to the All-State second team last year.
“Brooke is tough, and she’s very intimidating,” Kincaid said. “On most teams, goalies run the defense. In our case, Brooke runs it.”
Breanna Bevel, a sophomore, is the other middle back. Freshman Abby Gwinn and sophomore Ali Meade are on the outside.
Sophomore Alex Underwood is the goalkeeper. She saw limited action last year, but is teachable and coming along well.
Kincaid has high expectations for the team.
“I hope our team dynamics stay positive,” she said. “I think we might surprise some people.”
The Tigers open their season Aug. 24 at Capital.
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