When Fort Campbell’s Lady Falcons take the field Aug. 22 for their season opener at Graves County, a group of juniors will be leading the team.
After about 10 seniors graduated in May, second-year Coach Holly Alfeld said she will be relying on the experience play of Nia Gibbs-Francis, Caitlin Strohl, Shelbie Bell and newcomer Taylor Hoeltke.
“…they are stepping up to the plate,” Alfeld said. “Most of our team is really, really young this year… The JV from last year is now varsity, so we’re hoping that we’re going to have a good season this year.”
The Lady Falcons ended their 2012 regular season with a record of 7-5-2. Fort Campbell suffered a heartbreaking loss to one of their toughest rivals, Hopkinsville High School in the District 8 tourney. They finished the tournament with a record of 0-4.
Alfeld said last season taught her a lot about the sport and her team.
“I learned a lot from the girls last year,” she said. “[We have] more discipline this year. I have a lot more confidence this year. I know a lot more about the field and how [soccer] is played.”
Both Alfeld and her players agree that Hoptown is still their top rival. The Lady Falcons face the Lady Tigers at home Aug. 27 at Fryar Stadium.
“They beat us every year. I’m just ready to beat them this year,” said sophomore Madison Ellis, about Hopkinsville.
Alfeld complimented her team and said their defense is their strength, noting that goalkeeper Strohl is tough.
“Our defense is super strong. They don’t let anything get in that goal,” the coach said. “Our goalie, she’s pretty strong. This is her first year, too. She doesn’t let anything scare her. She goes out there and just attacks.”
Defender Gibbs-Francis is with Strohl at the goal. A varsity team veteran of three years, Gibbs-Francis will try to stop the other team from scoring.
“I have to stop the ball from getting to the goal,” she said. “Me and [sophomore] Katie Bolen, we are the last defenders … We have to protect the goal.”
Helping out on defense is teammate Ellis, a midfielder, who plays travel soccer in the spring to keep her in shape for Fort Campbell’s soccer season. She knows her role on the field is critical to their team’s success.
“I basically pass the ball to the center of the field where the [forwards] can shoot and score,” she said. “I run up and down the field like a million times.”
Players and coach alike strive for success on the field to make 2013 a winning season.
“Our goal is for my varsity to win at District,” Alfeld said. “Many of the teams in the district have newcomers, too. Hopefully, we’re equaling out now and hopefully my girls will take it this year.”
The Lady Falcons’ first home game is Aug. 26 against the Lady Colonels of Christian County. Kick off is at 7 p.m.
“I just hope that we have a good season,” Gibbs-Francis said. “I look forward to it.”