In an effort to adapt to a lower turnout the Louisa Lions girls’ soccer team is doing things a bit differently this season. Instead of having fixed rosters for the varsity and JV teams, some players will be rotating between the two throughout the season.
“This is actually the way we do it when working with professional clubs,” said Coach Deesh Bhattal. “A young player is better off playing good minutes at a JV game than sitting on the bench during a varsity game.”
The Lions have eight players who will be playing varsity all season, six of whom have varsity experience. Seniors Emily Eppard, Lily Farmer, Isabella Rocha and Julia Smith return for their final season with the team, and juniors Kendall Hyer and Tina Moseman are back as well. Joining them are freshmen Bo Claussen and Nina Fenster.
The remaining spots on the varsity roster for each game will be filled from a group of ten sophomores and four freshmen, and will vary from game to game based on player performance and what positions need to be filled.
“We’re having to be as fluid as possible,” Bhattal said. “It’s not perfect for anyone, but I think [we] have come up with a solution that’s going to work for everybody.”
Among the players in this group are four sophomores who made the 2020 varsity roster as freshmen: Hannah Farmer, Elise Bennett, Eleanor Pekary and Madison Metz. Sophomores Carlie Apple-Hollins, Jaydn Scott, Sophie Harris, Infinity Drinkard, Taylor Blount and Skylar Romano, and freshmen Gladys Escorza, Grace Hobbs, Kiera Apple and Mia Bracken round out the roster.
“When I look at the core of this team, it’s pretty darn good,” Bhattal said. “I think the girls and the parents are going to be surprised at how well we compete this year. I’m not saying we’re going to win everything, but we’re going to play some good soccer.”
The Lions proved how competitive they can be in their home opener, defeating the Orange County Hornets 3-1 on April 29.
Hyer got the Lions on the board in the eighth minute, but the Hornets tied things up later in the half. Despite efforts from both teams, the score stood at 1-1 until late in the second half when Hyer put a shot into the net from outside the box with six minutes left.
“I saw that they were leaving the middle open a lot,” she said. “We talked at halftime about taking shots and how the more we take the more likely we are to get one in. I just thought I could rip it and I did. It was really exciting to get it in for my team and my teammates.”
Now up 2-1, the Lions found a fresh burst of energy, sending more attacks toward the goal. Hyer tried for a shot from the right side, but the ball was deflected by the goalie. Drinkard was on hand to pick it up, putting away the third and final goal for the night.
“Tonight the girls did a good job of keeping their composure, being a bit more confident and calm on the field, moving the ball around and creating chances,” said Assistant Coach Patrick Miller. “That third goal, with the beautiful progression up the field put the cherry on the sundae. It was a great overall night for the program and a great overall night for the girls.”
The Lions opened their season with a road game against the Charlottesville Black Knights, falling 5-0, and traveled to Monticello High School on May 3 to take on the Mustangs. The Lions came up short, falling 4-0 and bringing their season record to 1-2. They host the Western Albemarle Warriors on May 6 and the Fluvanna Flucos on May 10. Action begins at 7 p.m. on both nights.
After a tough loss in their season opener, the Lions got their first win of the season on April 29, defeating the Orange County Hornets 1-0 in a road contest.
Sammy Anderson scored the lone goal in the 15th minute, putting it away after a shot from Jason Sotelo rebounded off of the goal post.
“The boys played aggressively and controlled the pace of the game,” said Coach Sergio Botero. “They displayed great confidence both attacking and defending and never let up. We could have easily won by two or three goals, but the keeper from Orange had an outstanding day and kept us from scoring additional goals.”
The Lions (1-1) have a full week of games ahead of them as they travel to Western Albemarle on May 6, host Monticello in The Jungle on May 7, and head to Fluvanna on May 10. All three games begin at 7 p.m.