Numbers are good for all three local high school girls soccer teams.
Franklin County and Western Hills return the majority of their starters from last year, and Daniel Rogers has the most players out for the team that he’s had in six years as Frankfort’s head coach.
The season starts Monday, with Franklin County and Frankfort opening on the road at Bryan Station and Kentucky Country Day, respectively. WHHS plays its season opener Wednesday at Thomas Nelson.
The Lady Panthers have 18 players on the varsity level who are ready to make a statement.
“The numbers we have this year are the highest we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Rogers said, “and they’re the most consistent numbers we’ve had.
“Even when we had two-a-day (practices), at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., the numbers were outstanding.”
FHS will be looking to improve on last year’s 2-11-4 record.
“This is by far the hardest working group I’ve had,” Rogers said. “We’re a senior-heavy team with seven seniors. They’re all returning. The only senior we lost was Grace Edelen, who decided to play volleyball.
“All the older players have made it a point to let the underclassmen know how really important they are to this year’s team.”
Sophomore Caroline Miklavcic is back as the Lady Panthers’ goalkeeper.
This year’s seniors are Zoe Antenucci, Faith Bowen, Madison Close, Emma Edwards, Claire Irish, Kennadie Pritchett and Kiani Tatum.
“This group of girls, most of them have been playing together since the fifth grade,” Rogers said, “and they’re ready to make a point.
“Technically we’re stronger than we’ve been before, and tactically we’re getting better with each training session.”
FHS’ first home game is Aug. 17 against Bryan Station.
“We’re excited,” Rogers said. “We’re looking to have a good season and make a deep run in the district, make it to regionals.”
The Lady Flyers graduated six seniors last year, but they return eight starters from a team that won the 41st District Tournament and finished with a 16-6 record.
“It’s an interesting mix of players,” FCHS coach Jon Sutphin said. “We have some new players out on the high school team and a few middle schoolers out.”
The middle school players will be on the junior varsity team.
Three of last year’s seniors were starters, giving Franklin County eight returners from last year’s starting 11.
“With that many players coming back it could give us a good jump on the season,” Sutphin said. “We return the majority of our scoring and assists leaders.
“We lost two of our defenders in the back, and our goalkeeper didn’t return. We have players who have played on the back line, but this year they’re getting thrown in the fire right from the get go.”
Starting in goal this season will be Taylor Manley, who was the keeper on last year’s junior varsity team.
“I have full confidence in Taylor,” Sutphin said. “She’s played select soccer, and she played JV for us last year.”
FCHS has six seniors this year — Taylor Amburgey, Adyson Gatewood, Emily Lopez, Kalista Newton, Emma Thompson and Kennadi Woods.
After opening at Bryan Station Monday, the Lady Flyers play their first home match Wednesday against Henry County.
The Lady Wolverines lost just one senior off last year’s team (7-11) that was runner-up in last year’s 41st District Tournament, and all the varsity players from that team are back this year.
“The ladies we have playing this year have been starting since their freshman year,” WHHS coach Chris Brady said. “As a coach you’re building to that. That experience, especially at the high school level, really helps.”
Western Hills has 27 players out this season, three of them seniors. They are Kaley Hoelscher, Ashley Peal and Logan Thomas.
“We’re seeing quality leadership from our senior class this year,” Brady said.
Thomas missed all of last season with an injury.
“She’s been battling injuries nearly every year,” Brady said. “Hopefully we can keep her healthy and she can have a productive senior year. She can definitely do a lot of things on the field.”
Junior Carson Graves returns as the Lady Wolverines’ goalkeeper, and sophomore Ella Davis, who led WHHS in scoring last year, is back.
Western Hills opens the season with four straight road games, starting Wednesday at Thomas Nelson, and the Lady Wolverines don’t play in town until they face Franklin County in the first round of the Rotary Capital City Classic on Aug. 26.
“I feel like this could be a good year for the ladies,” Brady said. “We’re trying to go light on the players coming back from injuries, and we’re trying not to have too high of expectations, set the bar too high.
“We want to come in, work hard every day and be better than the day before.”