WEST ALEXANDRIA — The Twin Valley South girls’ soccer program has a high ceiling entering this upcoming season.
Third-year coach Chad Newport hopes to fix his team’s chemistry issues as well as issues on the defensive end, however.
“Mid-summer I had high expectations. We are running into figuring out the chemistry issue with a lot of talent. We have a lot of talent in multiple positions,” said Newport.
The Panthers have been riddled with injury this pre-season though, especially on the defensive end. This has led to some of these issues with chemistry that.
“We lost a defender to the ACL-bug again. I lost my main sweeper to an ACL early in the season but I was able to replace her with Charis Grubbs, who is extremely fast and is going to be a good asset back there,” said Newport
He later added: “Hopefully we fix our defensive problems over the last few years. We’ve been hit and miss. We are going into this season shooting for 0-0-16 because we aren’t giving up any goals that way. At least we have a good baseline for defensive presence first and maybe work our already potent offense.”
The team, which finished 11-5-2 last season, is still poised to make a run at the conference title despite these concerns. The Panthers are returning 16 letter winners, five of whom are returning seniors – including Ashley Robertson who had 29 assist last season. Her twin sister, Ali Robertson, is also the goalkeeper for the Panthers.
“Anna Beneke and Lindsay Creech are both super role-players – who are also seniors – in the mid-field,” added Newport.
They are also returning nine juniors, including Victoria Delinger who is coming back from a 27-goal season and Morgan Newhart who is back from an ACL injury.
“We aren’t going to live and die by Vickie (Delinger) this year either. We have Abby Creech – she’s a sophomore – she’s coming off a 10-goal, 9-assist season last year as a freshmen,” said Newport.
“I think we have a good chance at league if we stay healthy and fix the chemistry problem. First or second in the league isn’t an impossibility for us but it’s going to be tough to win all the games in our county, let alone outside of it.”
The Panthers opened up their season at Middletown Christian on Monday. Their home opener will be on Thursday versus Union County then they will travel to Miami Valley on Saturday.
League play begins when they take on arch rival Tri-County North on Thursday, Aug. 28.