For the Tribune-Courier
Michael Boone has a dilemma that most coaches should be envious of.
But Boone, the Marshall County Lady Marshals soccer coach, isn’t complaining.
Boone is embracing that fact that he has 14 talented players vying for 11 starting positions on the soccer field.
“It’s a great problem to have,” said Boone, who enters his seventh season at the helm with an 88-34-14 record, including three First Region championships and one appearance in the state finals in 2007.
“We hope that when we do sub, that the level won’t drop off at all,” he said. “On any given night, any of those 14 girls can make up the starting rotation.”
While Boone may struggle to name a definite starting rotation as summer practice winds down, he knows that Marshall County’s success this season all starts on the defensive side of the ball, where he has a solid mix of defenders like seniors Rachel Redden and Claire Waggoner, juniors Melissa Ross and Hannah Travis and sophomores Karson Johnson and B.J. Waggoner.
“I preach defense and believe in the old adage that defense wins championships,” Boone said. “And that doesn’t apply to just our defenders. That goes for our forwards as well. We want to defend from the top as well.”
Last season, the Lady Marshals gave up the third fewest goals in the region – 36. But that figure was too high, by Boone’s standards.
“That’s more goals than we typically give up,” Boone explained.
Senior Jessie Brewer, who played sparingly last season, and freshman Allie Fiske, who Boone calls “well trained,” will see action in goal.
“We want to give up fewer goals than we did last year,” Boone said. “If that number comes down, we will be in more games.”
Conventional wisdom says that Marshall County’s success on offense will likely come from senior Toni Fehrenbacher and junior Cami Jones, the top two returning scorers from last season’s squad. Fehrenbacher tallied 18 goals last season while Jones recorded 17 goals.
Sophomores Brittany Kimbro (10 goals) and Kaitlin Cook (seven) return after seeing significant action as freshmen. Sophomores Rachel McWilliams and Nikki Fehrenbacher and freshman Kayla Travis are midfielders that are expected to contribute as well.
“It’s really too early to talk about starters,” Boone said. “I honestly don’t know if we have one best player.”
Marshall County has not shied away from a tough schedule. District 2 foe Murray and Region 1 rival Graves County – now coached by former Murray head man William McCuiston – top the local opposition, and the Lady Marshals will face a brutal road test later in the season when they travel to Evansville to face southern Indiana powerhouses Evansville Reitz and Castle.
They also travel to Daviess County for a tournament early in the season where they will face stronghold Rowan County and other top teams. The Lady Marshals will travel to McCracken County to close out regular season play.
Revenge will be on the minds of the Lady Marshals, who suffered district semi-final losses to nemesis Graves County the last two years in a row. The Lady Eagles edged Marshall County in an overtime penalty-kick shootout to end last season.
“Our schedule is sound in terms of quality opposition,” Boone said. “That rivalry with Graves County is always there. I don’t know that it has necessarily increased now that coach McCuiston is there. We would certainly like to get back to the regional finals.”