MURRAY — The Lady Tigers’ soccer team finished last season 11-10 and narrowly missed the regional playoffs after suffering a 1-0 loss to Marshall County in the district semi-finals, but the team essentially returns everyone.
Of their 11 starters from last season, the Lady Tigers return eight players, including Murray State commit, Angela Gierhart.
On the offensive side of the ball, the team was stellar with five players scoring double-digit goals, and the bright side is that every one of them return to the team this season. Hollis Borque led the way with 21 goals, and was followed closely by Kyra Jones (16), Peyton Wray (15), Gierhart (15) and Jaclyn Fuqua (12). On defense the loss of Echo Falwell, Lily Vanover and Apirada Chetawatee will be felt, but that leaves some space for other to step in.
For those three open spots in the lineup, the battle in practice has been competitive. Head coach Shauna Traylor said the team has a good sense of what they want to accomplish as well as confidence in their new spots.
“We have a great group of girls really stepping up and falling into place in each of these positions,” Traylor said. “They are owning their new spot. Riley Campbell is going to help hold down the back line in a new spot this season.”
With the oddity that has been this offseason due to COVID-19, the team has put a lot of work and focus into being as physically fit as possible. The early portion of allowed practices were conditioning only and the team put plenty of effort in.
“We are fit. With the extended preseason, my girls have owned their fitness,” Traylor said. “They know they all have to be able to give me 80 minutes each game so they all have been working extra hard to be fit for the season. Also the girls are very motivated to play and that is going to drive them this season.”
Last year, the Lady Tigers had a freshman in the goal and over the course of the season there was noticeable improvement. Now, a year later, Ana Bryson looks to be even more comfortable in the position and ready to face different situations with more confidence.
“Our goal keepers have come a long way from last year,” Traylor said. “Ana Bryson has improved tremendously from last season until now. She knows the game and is much more comfortable. We also have Lydia Herndon back this season after being out last season with an injury. Both goal keepers have been very impressive in practice this summer.”
With the start of their season set for tonight, they will face the team that ended their season first, Marshall County.
“I think it is going to be a breath of fresh air to take the field for the first time after the roller coaster they have been on,” Traylor said. “Their attitudes have been amazing with the pandemic going on around them and I believe they are truly ready to play.”
The advantage the Lady Tigers hold is the familiarity with each other as the team with the most returning starters. It’s just a matter of putting everything together this year to be successful.
“There are a lot of familiar faces from last season, but some new ones who I am excited to see what they can do for us,” Traylor said. “The young Murray High Team from last year is just a little bit older and mature this year so I am excited to see where it takes us.”