When soccer coach Joel Abe needed to name a few players who need to step up this year, his answer was direct and swift.
“Jeffrey Morse, Jarratt Davis, Sha Hunter.”
As for the reason behind Abe’s response? Those three are the only returning starters Louisa has from last year’s 5-11 varsity team.
“They have to establish the tone,” Abe said. “They’re players who have a lot of expectations on them. They have to be able to lead on the field.”
This year, the Lions will be high on potential but low on experience.
Replacing graduated forward Jorge Guiterrez-Reyes, a three-time first team All-District player for Louisa, will be a top priority going into this season. Guiterrez-Reyes was one of the highlights of a program that has only six wins in the past two seasons. Abe labeled Guiterrez-Reyes’ absence this year as a “significant loss,” and one of the biggest he’s experienced in his nine years as Louisa’s head coach.
The scoring role this season will likely fall on the cleats of Hunter, a battle-tested senior. Hunter has the athleticism and speed to succeed, but developing chemistry with an entirely new front line could take some time.
“I think there will definitely be some steep learning going on early in the season,” Abe said.
Defensively, the Lions biggest loss is that of center back Phillip Whitlock. It’s a position that Abe reserves not just for a tough defender, but a general of the field. So far, the jury is still out on who will fill the void.
“The past eight years here, I’ve had some very consistent center back players,” Abe said. “We’re looking to find somebody who can fit in there.”
One position that is filled is goalie. Kenneth “Trey” Chisholm, who started for the junior varsity team the past two years, inherits the spot, and in practices so far, he’s gained the trust of coaches and players alike.
To read the entire story, see the March 20 edition of The Central Virginian.