The Louisa Lions’ girls soccer team is getting a fresh start this year under their new head coach, Deesh Bhattal, who brings many years of soccer experience to the program, both as a player and a coach.
“The team is going to improve this year and be stronger next year because we’re building off of that base,” he said.
Bhattal played soccer at Algonquin College in Ottowa, Ontario, then played professionally for the Winnipeg Fury. He’s coached for a number of college teams in Canada, including as head coach of the Seneca College women’s soccer team from 2007 to 2010, and assistant coach at the University of Toronto. More recently, he’s worked as a guest coach for the University of Virginia’s women’s soccer team and was hired to coach the Monticello High School boys’ soccer team in 2015.
“He’s definitely very qualified,” said junior Emily Eppard, one of the team’s returning players. “He’s been very direct with us and it’s been very helpful. I feel like I’m learning a lot and I feel like this season can be a turning point for us.”
Bhattal’s main goal for this season is to lay the foundations for a successful program in the years to come.
“With this group, there’s absolutely raw talent,” he said. “There’s just a lack of information that’s been given to them or a good training structure. So this season we’re just going to set a good training base and get them to a good training level.”
Bhattal has been encouraged by the fact that the girls have been very responsive to his coaching style and goals for the program.
“So far, attendance has been outstanding, attitudes have been outstanding, so they’re really taking on and absorbing the information,” he said. “They’re hungry for it and they’re running with it.”
The team boasts several returning sophomores and juniors this season. In addition to Eppard, juniors Lillian Farmer, Julia Smith and Isabella Rocha return, as do sophomores Kendall Hyer and Christina Moseman. Back in goal for the Lions is the team’s lone senior, Anna Filipkowski.
The Lions also have a number of players moving up from the JV team. Junior Rebecca Furgurson and sophomore Isabela Benjamin join the varsity roster, along with a quartet of freshman players: Elsie Bennett, Hannah Farmer, Madison Metz and Elanor Pekary. Rounding out the team are newcomers Shaelyn Frey and Christtany Harler.
“I’m excited for the season,” Hyer said. “It should be a whole new dynamic on the field.”
The Lions start their season with a road contest against the Monticello Mustangs on March 16. Kickoff is schedulde for 5:30 p.m.