By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Moving up to Class AAA soccer might be daunting for some.
Shady Spring’s soccer teams are welcoming the competition.
“We’re very excited,” interim girls head coach Rachel Kincaid said. “My girls say, ‘To be the best, you have to play the best.’ We’re ready for some challenging games.”
Kincaid, an assistant coach the past two seasons, has taken over for Joey Beckett, who guided the Tigers to an 18-3-1 record last year and a berth in the state tournament.
“I really admire the way our girls are approaching it,” Kincaid said. “They could be scared, but they’re not.”
Shady boys’ coach Mike Manning lost some key players from last year’s 13-6-2 Region 3 runner-up squad. He’s a little more reserved, but confident.
“We’re missing some leadership, so there could be a little shock and awe early,” he said. “But as the season goes on, we’ll develop and be a contender in our section.”
He’s battled Class AAA teams before.
“When I started coaching 10 years ago, it was all one class,” Manning said. “Our program has developed. We’ve been building every year, and last year we went to the regional game. We’re ready to go to AAA.”
— Offense will be the name of the game for the Shady girls, who return two of the top scorers in the state in attacking midfielder Lyndsey Thompson and forward Jade Oar.
Thompson scored 46 goals in 2011 and comes back stronger than ever.
“Lyndsey played travel ball with girls’ and boys’ teams this summer,” Kincaid said. “She’s reading the field really well, and she has great ballhandling skills.”
While the defense might be tough in AAA ball, the Tigers don’t expect Thompson’s scoring to suffer.
“Lyndsey has a very good leg, and we’re working on her accuracy,” Kincaid said. “That’s our mission for her.”
Oar contributed 34 goals her junior year.
“Jade is really quick, and takes control on the field,” Kincaid said. “She’s a really solid offensive player, and she helps direct people where they need to go.”
Lauren Solock, a junior with excellent footwork, is the other forward.
Strong-legged junior Carlie Killmer is joined at midfielder by senior “wildcat” Rebecca Graham, and transfers Bri Bevel, a freshman from Charleston, and Preston Caperton, a sophomore who moved in from Woodrow Wilson High School.
Defenders are returning starters Brooke Cogar, a junior; senior Megan Davis, currently out with an injury; and sophomores Sabol Meadows, Lauren McKinney and Ali Kaminski.
Alexis DeMoss, who batted .450 last year for Shady’s state-quarterfinalist softball team, has taken over for Kayla Hager in goal. Hager moved to North Carolina.
“Alexis is not tall, but she’s very athletic,” Kincaid said. “She makes a lot of surprising saves at practice.
The Tigers will open their season Tuesday against Herbert Hoover at the YMCA’s Paul Cline Memorial Youth Sports Complex.
— Shady’s boys must contend with the graduation of first-team all-state midfielder Cameron Killmer, first-team forward Troy Walker, second-team forward Tod Williams and defender Jacob Childers.
The two forward spots have been inherited by senior Jacob Childers, who came off the bench to rank second on the team in assists, and junior Ben Lilly.
Senior John Mark Bacho could be a key at midfielder.
“John Mark is a three-year starter who’s smart with the ball, and smart away from the ball, which really plays big in soccer,” Manning said. “He knows where to get for the next pass. Nothing beats experience.”
Nick Bartusiak a junior who plays quietly, but effectively, is also in the midfield, along with sophomore Casey Killmer and senior Walker McCord. Both Killmer and McCord missed much of last season with injuries.
Senior sweeper Josh Buckland highlights a defensive back four that also includes senior Nick Farley and sophomores Keegan Mueller and Josh Snyder.
“We call Josh a bulldog. He won’t let anyone run over him,” Manning said. “He will come up with the ball.”
Junior goalkeeper Jonathan Beckett is a three-year starter not afraid to get physical with attackers.
Manning has upped his schedule, adding AAA powers Woodrow Wilson and George Washington.
The Tigers open their season at 7 p.m. Tuesday against Woodrow Wilson at Paul Cline Stadium.
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