The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

High School Sports

August 11, 2012

Umberger says Flying Eagles will be much improved

BECKLEY — Just how much does Woodrow Wilson girls soccer coach Paulette Umberger like her team?

“They practice like crazy and they don’t complain,” Umberger said. “It’s exciting to go out there with them.”

The Flying Eagles have talent — forward Elizabeth Gramling and defenders Savannah Barajas and Sarah Akers will be among the better players in the state. Several others saw action last season.

They’ll also be young. Barajas is the only senior on the team, and 11 freshmen should make contributions.

Umberger is confident they’ll improve on last season’s disappointing 6-7-2 mark.

“That was the worst record we’ve ever had,” she said. “We just couldn’t seem to get it together.

“This group may be young, but they’re ready to play. They have a lot of enthusiasm.”

Gramling, a junior and three-year starter, improved with leaps and bounds last season. She will be a top scoring threat along with Kelci Keel, a junior playing only her second year of soccer.

Barajas and Akers are also three-year starters. Barajas has good knowledge of the field and is a team leader. Akers not only excels on defense, but is great on corner, direct, indirect and penalty kicks.

Emily Lane played quite a bit in goal last year and will now start. Another junior, Maddy Fox, comes over from volleyball and brings speed on the wing.

Five sophomores should play important roles for the Flying Eagles — center-midfielder Shannon Barajas, wings Tanner Trostle and Maddi Van Meter (another former volleyball player) and defenders Tyla Wimbush and Sarah Mullins.

Freshmen Mikayla Akers, midfielder Rebekah Cook and wings Kaylee Hilliard and Jada Watts have already worked themselves into Umberger’s rotation.

Akers, like her older sister Sarah, looks to have an outstanding career.

“Mikayla is excellent player and started in our scrimmage,” Umberger said. “You wouldn’t know she’s a freshman by the way she played.”

Most of the Flying Eagles are versatile, which gives Umberger plenty of options.

“It will be hard to decide who to play at what position,” she said. “So many of them can play.”

Woodrow will open its season Aug. 17 at Parkersburg, and will play the next day at Ripley.

The first home match is Aug. 21 against Class AA power PikeView.

— E-mail: dstillwell@register-herald.com

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