Lady Hawks ready to meet challenge

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By David Dawson


Laura Kudrna, now in her third year as the Lady Hawks head soccer coach, is facing some changes in her youthful team. Gone from last year’s successful team (15-3) are Peyton Gardner, Courtney Johnson, Shelbi Brooks, Abby Modrowski and Sydney Price – who all played key roles in winning the Lady Hawks’ first district championship.

With change comes challenges. This team will certainly have a totally different dynamic when it begins its season Aug. 18 at John Hardin.

“As all teams do, we have to adapt from year to year, changing our formations and drills to better suit the players that we have on the field,” said Coach K. “It’s too early to say what the outlook is, but I do know that the girls on this team are committed to their team and will do what it takes to be the best they can be on the field.”

Returning starters from last year’s season include Nichole Thomas – midfielder; Hattie Ward – midfielder, defender; Carly Higdon – defender; Jacilyn Hazelwood – defender; Harley Keller – defender; Gillian Nunn – midfielder, forward; Rachel Wolf – midfielder, forward; Natalie Wolf – forward; Marisa Cecil – midfielder, defender; Sierra Mullins – goalie.

The large holes to fill include four defenders and one midfielder. This year’s players “are just as knowledgeable about playing their positions as their predecessors and have a positive outlook on their new team. They encourage one another to do their best and I have seen that positive communication on the field already.”

One of the key assets of a successful team is speed, and by the looks of things this will be noticeable from the beginning.

“I am excited to see the top half of our team run the ball. Gillian Nunn, Rachel Wolf, and Natalie Wolf all have a strong connection on the field,” said Coach K. “They almost automatically know where to place the ball and how to work as a team.”

Thomas and Ward will control the center of the field in both midfield and defense. Hazelwood, Higdon and Keller will be key in directing the back line. Mullins has made great strides as goalie, as her skills have improved vastly since last season.

“The upperclassmen have been doing great with working with new players and underclassman to help them improve on individual skills during practice and even on their own time. It is very uplifting to see that the senior leaders this year are taking that initiative to help build their team up, not just athletically but with encouragement as well.”

“(Rachel) Wolf, along with the other seniors (Hazelwood, Keller and Mullins) have had to step up and become more vocal already,” said Coach K. “I think since we lost such strong players, all of us new seniors have been trying to encourage the players not as experienced. I’m just trying to help any way I can because I know stepping into a varsity role can be scary.”

The girls’ soccer team had their first friendly scrimmage of the season this past Saturday, giving Coach K a chance to evaluate the play of her young team.

“The scrimmage with Warren East was a great indicator for our strengths and weaknesses for the beginning of our season,” she said. “It was a well-played game by both teams. I was extremely impressed with what I saw from both teams. There are still areas where we need improvement, but we will be working very hard to fix those areas before our actual game season begins. I feel like the girls walked away from the game with a winning attitude for future games to come.”

Wolf said her teammates really stepped up and made a strong effort.

“There were definitely some areas that we need to work on, but overall everyone gave a great effort.”

The Lady Hawks will travel to John Hardin on Aug. 18 to open up the 2014 season.