DRAFFENVILLE – When a streak of 15 straight regional championships comes to an end, there are two options: be disappointed, or be motivated.
Marshall County girls soccer coach Michael Boone, whose team found itself in that very dilemma last year when Murray upset the Lady Marshals 2-1 in the region title game, opts to take the second option.
“Now that that’s happened, the proverbial monkey’s off our back,” Boone said. “We can feel sorry for ourselves, or we can use that for motivation.”
The Lady Marshals were scheduled to open 2011 action in a scrimmage against Caldwell County Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Other than regaining the region championship, Boone knows well his primary mission this year – try to fill the void left by Margaret Thomas, now playing on scholarship in the Southeastern Conference at the University of Mississippi.
“Anytime you lose a D1 player you’ve got a pretty big hole to fill,” Boone conceded. “Margaret’s been our leading scorer all four years. Replacing 80-plus goals over four years won’t be easy.”
Even so, Boone has plenty of material to work with, including a rising sophomore who last year put herself on pace to match Thomas’ four-year achievement. Toni Fehrenbacher scored 23 goals as a freshman to rank as the team’s third-best scorer behind Thomas (31) and her sister, Tory Fehrenbacher (28 goals as a junior last year).
Thomas also led the team last year in assists, with 17.
Boone wants to get more scoring from his midfielders. A trio of juniors – Maile Lawton, Mariah McKenty and Erica McWilliams – anchored the midfield last year, but contributed only 12 goals, six of them by McKenty, who also recorded 13 assists to rank second to Thomas.
The three will need to step up their scoring to help put points on the scoreboard, Boone said, but he is confident they will provide more than goals and assists.
“They’re kind of a three-headed quarterback that will run the show,” he said, using the analogy to the offensive leader in American-style football. “They’re going to be important in linking our defenders with our forwards.”
In goal, Savana Smothers saw action in 25 games last year as a sophomore and allowed 31 goals, 1.2 per game.
Boone will have a new lineup of assistants. Jared Rosa, previously an assistant to boys’ coach Don Walker, moves over to the Lady Marshals in the aftermath of Walker’s retirement at the end of last year. He replaces Abby Ealey, who had been assistant for the last half-dozen years, four of which were with Boone at the helm.
He will be joined by three former MCHS players – Kalli Colley and Laken Dirkes from the Class of 2006 and ‘04 grad Karen Carmack, who played at Martin (Tenn.) Methodist College and later became goalkeeper coach at the school, which won two NAIA championships while Carmack was there.
Colley and Dirkes played at Murray State.
The bottom line is, that stinging loss to Murray notwithstanding, “We expect to be in the regional championship game and go on beyond there,” Boone said.
He picked Murray, Marshall and Graves County as the top three teams in the region, with Murray at the top.
“They’re the defending champions,” he said. “We beat them three times (last year) and they beat us when it counted.”
The Lady Marshals visit Murray Sept. 13 and the Lady Tigers come to MCHS on Sept. 29.