By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
If you have to rebuild, as Greenbrier East girls soccer coach Sean Acord is having to do this season, it’s good to have numbers.
How about 33 players, coach?
“That’s the largest number I know of at Greenbrier East,” Acord said. “We’re rebuilding, but we have a lot of talent.”
The Spartans lost nine seniors from last season’s 14-4 club. Key among those losses were forward Ashton Holliday, the team’s leading scorer who now plays at Hollins College near Roanoke; forward Bre Cole, defender Maddie Carroll and midfielders Mikayla Keen and Paige Acord. Another midfielder, Lauren Prevett, transferred to Winfield.
That’s a lot of positions to fill. Acord has just five returning seniors, all of whom will start, and three juniors. Eleven sophomores and 14 freshmen round out the squad.
“We’ll have a competitive starting 11, and we can go four deep without losing a lot,” Acord said. “We have a lot of girls, but when you have 14 freshmen, that’s a lot of young talent.”
A lot will depend on senior forward Shae West and whether the Spartans can get her the ball.
West was the team’s leading scorer as both a freshman and sophomore, but was surpassed in goals last year by Holliday.
She remains a fine attacker.
“Shae has the ability to (go) left and right feet with the same power,” Acord said. “She’s physical and has decent speed.”
Senior Claire Soucier is the other striker. She played both forward and midfielder last season, and has worked on developing her shot with her left foot.
Katie Ervin, a junior, and freshman Mallory Baker are the backups at forward.
Erin Johnson will be the sole senior in a midfield dominated by sophomores. Johnson is a consistent player, who passes the ball well.
Tenth-graders Claire Perkins, Cat Walton, Chelsea Midkiff and Emily Yates will look to make their marks as well in the midfield.
Returning senior starters Shay Gadomski and Lauren Perkins will anchor the defense.
Gadomski, a central defender, has very good speed and field awareness. Perkins has good leg strength and is accurate on passes. Both are three-year starters.
Mikayla Carter started as an outside defender last year and is versatile enough to play forward or midfielder if needed.
Sophomore Claire Gibson and freshman Caralee Rutherford will also see action in the defense.
The schedule became a nightmare because after East withdrew from the Mountain State Athletic Conference, most MSAC teams won’t or cannot schedule the Spartans.
“We were unable to find a team to scrimmage, and we struggled to find teams during the season,” Acord said. “We’ll be playing team from up north such as Elkins.”
Nevertheless, he expects a good season.
“We’ll be solid, top to bottom,” Acord said. “We have decent team speed, and if the team gels, we might pull an upset here and there. And who knows, come October?”
East will open its season Monday at Herbert Hoover, and then host Charleston Catholic Tuesday.
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