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Give Becky Hawkins this – the LaRue County Lady Hawks’ coach is honest almost to a fault.
The Lady Hawks went 6-7-4 last season, getting outscored 54-26 and going winless (0-6-2) against 9th District teams.
“Last year our main goal was not to get mercy ruled. That’s how low of a skill level we had,” Hawkins said. “Now our goal is to play a good game and work hard as best we can. Hopefully that hard work will pay off.”
It should as the Lady Hawks return 17 players in the program - 14 on varsity - and bring back nine players who started at least once last season. They return players responsible for 16-of-26 goals and 15-of-21 assists. And for once, the girls’ program has more players than the boys’ side.
“The motivation is definitely there. They want to learn, they want to do well and they’re showing it,” Hawkins said. “But we’re not candy-coating it with and telling them we’re going to be a great team and beat everybody. Still, that doesn’t mean we still can’t have high expectations for what we know they’re capable of doing.”
Junior Kasey Wells returns in goal after recording four shutouts last season and holding six of her final nine opponents to less than two goals. Hawkins said sophomore Peyton Gardner and freshman Harley Keller could also see time in net. Gardner also plays defense, while Keller is coming back from a broken growth plate in her hip.
The four defenders have yet to be locked down, but Hawkins said Gardner will be the stopper when she’s not in the net. She’ll be joined on the back line by a combination of Wells, freshman Jacilyn Hazelwood, sophomores Courtney Johnson and Sydney Price and senior Mariah Higdon.
“They show no fear. They’re not afraid to go up against anybody,” said Hawkins, noting that defenders could alternate between left or right back and sweeper. “We’re trying to train them in the various roles they may play because somebody may get hurt, they may be out and you might have grade issues. You never know. And they’re not any good to anybody if they can only do one thing all the time.”
Hawkins’ midfielders include the sophomore trio Shelbi Brooks, Marissa Crosswhite and Tristyn Sales and the senior threesome of Skye Davis, Nancy Howell and Amarah Reed.
“They’ve got legs that don’t stop,” Hawkins said. “They can run the whole field back and forth, which makes them good in the midfield because they can handle that constant running.”
Hawkins plans to use four players as attackers in Brooks (five goals last year), sophomore Abby Modrowski (three goals, four assists) and seniors Megan Smith (six goals, five assists) and Paige Nalley.
“They’ve been working together for a while on the field. They can read each other and they’re doing well on their crossing,” Hawkins said. “That communication on the field has helped them make the goals.”
Hawkins said she’ll also count on six other players in various roles. Senior Misty England is a midfielder and defender, junior Logan Grant is a forward and midfielder, Breanna Pellman is a freshman defender and Courtni Price, Alma Martinez and Carolyn Martinez are freshmen midfielders.
While the Lady Hawks do have plenty of experience back, she stressed their program is still fledgling and growing compared to other programs in the area.
“We’re not comparable to teams who have been around for years that have really strong rec leagues,” she said. “But they really seem to be engaged in learning about the sport and they’re really trying. That helps a lot.”