Tigers soccer head coach Patrick Muenchen said that the team says “4-16” as their motto this season.
No, it cannot be the formation they will play. That would be too many players.
It’s not their record from a season earlier. They could not muster four wins and were unable to play 20 games due to COVID-19 cancelling their 2020 season.
Instead, April 16, or “4-16,” is the date of their last regular season game this season.
“Our goal is to finish this season,” Muenchen said. “We don’t want this season to get canceled for us.”
According to Muenchen, the Tigers are returning six to seven seniors that play with much better synergy than his team did last year.
“We should just call it a learning experience,” Muenchen said. “We scheduled a lot of big games at the beginning of the season and just weren’t able to swim in those waters. We played hard and with heart, but when you lose so many times, it beats you down.”
Including those seniors, Muenchen’s team received two transfer in Andrew Pirkle and Eliman Jallow, both of whom will either immediately contribute or have a significant role by the end of the season, he said. He added that freshman Dominic LaBlanc is an experienced club player who will see time on the field. Their goalie, Gio Hernandez, returns after sitting most of the season last year with a concussion.
With nowhere to go but up, Muenchen said that he is excited to bring a strong defense back to the field this season.
“There’s some hope,” Muenchen said. “We do have some guys that have been playing with each other for a long time. The biggest thing is that everything works well together.”
After winning the 7-3A region title in 2019, the Lady Tigers won two of their eight games in 2020. This year, the team will be without Valdosta State commit Molly Meuenchen, after she tore her ACL. Muenchen holds the single-game goal record, single-season goal record and career goal record at Dawson County.
“Obviously she’s a big part of the last two years,” Lady Tigers head coach Chess Hamby said. “So, we’re gonna have to find some ways to score with other people. The production is probably gonna be spread around multiple positions.”
Hamby added that seniors Annie Gloeckner and Zoe Hill are the leaders of his team and that he will be relying on all of his seniors’ experience on the field this season.
“The senior class is phenomenal,” Hamby said. “A pleasure to coach. [Gloeckner] is our spark plug and has a high motor. [Hill] has been in the program a long time and has always done things the right way. Makes sure that the younger players understand how we do things.”
Transfer Emma Faircloth and freshman Yelena Sapp are two newcomers to the Tigers team that Hamby said will be part of his rotation this season. He added that his defense will have to get better for his team to reach their ultimate goal, a region championship. The Lady Tigers averaged over three goals allowed per game last year.
“If you look around,” Hamby said, “there’s a lot of people that are doubting us. We set those expectations pretty high with the things we accomplished the last couple of years. These younger girls see that and want to live up to the expectations of the team before them.
The soccer season starts Tuesday, Feb. 2 at Chestatee High School. The first home game of the season will be Friday, Feb. 5 against Calhoun High School.