USC Salkehatchie Athletics

2014 Soccer Preview

USC SALKEHATCHIE 2014 WOMEN’S SOCCER PREVIEW

Things just keep getting tougher for women’s soccer in NJCAA Region X. The level of competition is heating up more every year. Over the last couple of seasons the Indians have just not kept up. “We have had a hard time over the last couple years fielding a balanced team,” according to USC Salkehatchie Head Soccer Coach Bill Glass. “Our defense has been strong but we are not scoring enough goals.” This has led to the team getting knocked out of the Region X soccer tournament two years running after at least making it on to the semi’s several years in a row.
Like many soccer coaches, Glass chooses to build his team from the back, and that means oftentimes the best players on the team are put into the defense even if they are also the best attacking players on the team. In order to address this issue, Glass, along with Assistant Coach Brandon Woods, worked on recruiting several high level dedicated defenders to the team during the off season. This way the coaches will not have to take strong players out of the attack in order to shore up the defense. Finding good defenders is not easy because players from a young age are attracted more to attacking than defending. However, as of this writing it looks like the recruiting strategy has a good chance of paying off. Not only did the coaches sign several strong defenders during the off season, but they also were able to recruit well for the midfield and forward positions. The result portends to be a more balanced squad for 2014.
One thing will not change this year and that is the emphasis on quickly getting the ball back anytime the opponent has it. The Indians play a team defense with everyone on the field involved in the effort, not just the backs. “It is a high pressure defense meant to limit the amount of time and space our opponent has to work with,” according to Glass. Early pressure often leads to tackling opportunities. Thus, while the Salkehatchie players are taught to strictly play the ball and not the man, this approach leads to a lot of physical contact. Most of the teams in Region X play the same way and the players are accustomed to it, so they usually don’t overreact when they are on the receiving end of a hard challenge.
The Indians defense will be happy to have several key players returning including last’s years starting goalkeeper and team MVP Chelsee Wright of Upatoi, GA. Shannah Barrow of Screven, GA, will also plan to resume her starting position as outside back/wing. Charlie Taylor of Sylvania, GA, started in central defense for the Indians 2013 edition and will be back for the 2014 campaign. Neichie Etienne of North Lauderdale, FL, is a utility player who is effective playing anywhere. Last year she played mostly in the back, this year Glass would like to see Neichie more in an attacking midfield role. Kenesha Roberts of Lauderdale Lakes, FL, and NiAundai Hollins of Columbia, SC, played up top for Salkehatchie last season and scored some critical goals for the team, so Glass is very happy to see both of them back.
The Indians will be welcoming a strong class of recruits to the team this fall. Coming in to the central defense will be center backs Leah Kingwood from Coral Springs, FL, and Dallas Boulware of Columbia, SC. They will be working closely with sweeper Balbina Ramos of Athens, GA. Daira Anastacio and Twakell Ferguson, both of North Charleston, SC, will be splitting time between the backline and the midfield. Also working to control the midfield will be Ana Grace Catoe of Heath Springs, SC, and Breanna King of Jonesboro, GA. The 2014 Indians will also add several players to join sophomores Roberts and Hollins in the attack. Forwards Jerica Jessica Washington of West Columbia, SC, Shanquetta Morgan of Columbia, SC, and Dina Stagg of Trenton, GA, will all be eager to put the ball in the back of the opponents net. Katie Heywood from O’Sullivan Beach in South Australia will see action in an attacking midfield role looking to record some assists while finishing off a few goals herself. Glass is also very pleased to have Destinee Lanier of Statesboro, GA, and Ashley Moore of Riverdale, GA, coming in to provide much needed depth to the goalkeeper position. “Balance is critical for a team,” he says, “but it is nothing without depth. This year it looks like we are going to have both.”
As the summer dwindles away and the first day of training approaches, the Indians women are diligently working the summer conditioning program they were given back in May. Bright and early on Monday, August 4, they will be given the chance to take a fitness test to show how well they have done getting physically ready for the season. Just 7 days later, they will lace on their boots to face Middle Georgia State College. The game kicks off at 7pm in Cochran, GA, on Monday, August 11. Later that week, the Indians will travel to Franklin Springs, GA, for a friendly with Emmanuel College set for 6pm on Saturday, August 16. On Thursday, August 21 at 3pm, the team is scheduled to play at Mount Olive College, NC, and then on Wednesday, August 27, at 3pm, they will play their first regular season match at USC Beaufort JV. The team’s first region match will be at Wake Tech in Raleigh, NC, with kick off set for 2pm. The Indians will play their first home game on Thursday, September 3, at 5pm, when they host USC Lancaster at the Salkehatchie home field on the Allendale campus. Last year’s version of the Indian’s earned the respect of opponents by combining good sportsmanship with aggressive play. This year, by finishing off a few more scoring opportunities, the team will be in a position to not only earn respect, but to dramatically increase the number of W’s. “The key for this team, with all these new players coming in, will be team unity, how the players bond,” according to Glass. “I am confident that these players are determined to have a winning season and will all work together to make it happen.”

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