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New soccer season, same high expectations
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Coming off yet another successful season for both the girls and boys varsity soccer programs, Head Coach Jed Lacey has high expectations for the new season that will begin next week.

Despite losing players like Alan Sanchez and Emily Queen, the attitude and perspective have not changed.

"Sanchez, you are not going to get another Alan Sanchez," Lacey said. "He was unreal.

"If you look at what we lost, it's huge. This is not the most talented [team] but we are deep, very deep."

The varsity boys finished last year as Region 7-AAA runners-up with a 14-4-1 record and advanced to the Elite Eight round of the state tournament.

Sanchez and returning junior Dennis Pyetsukh were both first team all-region with Sanchez contributing 18 goals and a school record 16 assists.

Pyetsukh set a school record with 24 goals last year.

Ty Anglin was a goal keeper that will be tough to replace, according to Lacey, but the team has recruited Dillon Tierney for the job.

"He's a 6' 3" kid, big tall player back there, but we are going to have to train him up a little bit."

Though the team lost Andrew Goley-a football player who tried soccer for his senior year and ended up with second team all-region honors-they are picking up senior Nasser Clark, another football player-turned-soccer player.

Clark is an Army commit in football and Lacey said he will be playing up front.

Pyetsukh, Tyler Lawson and Patrick Moody will have the spots up top with Cole Dennis, Nathan Blythe and Tyler Glamuzina in the middle.

"It's going to be a great season, but I have to figure out who we are," Lacey said. "We have got to find our identity."

Karson Pharris and Nick Murphy are also returning and Timmy Daniel will be a captain, starting for his fourth year for Lacey.

Lacey also said that Jack Pharris and Raleigh Payne will be in the back.

Despite the changes, the schedule has not lightened at all.

"We are playing a hard schedule," he said. "I personally made this the hardest schedule we could. Basically every team on our schedule past the first two games, every team made the state playoffs."

That type of scheduling is what Lacey believes will pay off when it comes time for the playoffs.

"We just want to play the best so we get ready for state," he said.

Lacey said he believes both teams are capable of winning it all.

"If we don't win it all, we feel like we were unsuccessful," he said. "We are that good."

The girls' program is coming off a region championship as well as a trip to the Elite Eight and yet Lacey has high praise for this year's squad.

"This is the most talented girls' team I have had in 21 years," he said.

The team lost two four-year starters in Tina Libao and last year's region player of the year Emily Queen.

"Losing those two girls, it hurts, but the crazy part is they can be replaced," he said. "Those girls are tremendous, but the talent we have got coming in is wonderful."

This year's team will include five starting sophomores and two starting freshman.

Sophomore midfielder Ruthie Pittman will take Queen's spot and Lacey calls her completely underrated.

Senior Mackenzie Callas will join her at forward and Lacey said that she and sophomore forward Rachael Rajczak are two of the top players in the region.

At midfield, sophomore Frankie Muldoon will play alongside senior Lydia Blythe and freshman Katy Clouse.

"Clouse could play anywhere," he said.

Senior Brooke Cagle will be playing defense and senior defender Ava Walker and senior defender Devon Coates will be this year's captains.

"Having Ava and Devon back there, you couldn't have two better senior warriors back there leading this program," Lacey said. "I am blessed to have those girls back there."

On the outside will be another freshman, Taylor Daniel.

"One of the best, most wonderful players to ever come in the program at a young age," Lacey said. "She is really highly skilled. She is going to be in the back with us."

Returning first team all-region sophomore goal keeper Fallan Lacey will also return.

"She is one of the best keepers in the state," he said. "Our defense is going to be solid. You are going to have to work to score on us."

One other girl has impressed Lacey, beginning with camp over the summer-freshman forward Molly Kitchen.

"She is the biggest surprise I have on the team," he said. "She has impressed me so much."

Lacey believes in his players and that this year they will go far.

"We are such a family program," he said. "That's what makes it work. We are just so close."

Both teams will open play in an exhibition match at 5:30 and 7 p.m. on Friday at Mountain View. The teams will play their first home games at 5 and 7 p.m. on Feb. 7 against Hart County.

Varsity soccer schedule Girls Boys

Feb. 7 Hart County 5:00 7:00
Feb. 10 Sonoraville 5:30 7:30
Feb. 14 @ East Jackson 5:30 7:30
Feb. 17 @Providence Christian 5:30 7:30
Feb. 21 @ Flowery Branch 5:30 7:30
Feb. 24 @ Blessed Trinity 5:30 7:30
Feb. 28 @Pinecrest Academy 5:30 7:30
Mar. 3 Walnut Grove 5:30 7:30
Mar.10 @ Richmond Hill 5:30 7:30
Mar. 11 @ Savannah Arts 2:00 4:00
Mar. 17 North Hall * 5:30 7:30
Mar. 21 GAC * 5:30 7:30
Mar. 24 @ Fannin County * 5:30 7:30
Th. Mar 30 @ Lumpkin County * 5:30 7:30
Fr. Apr. 14 White County 5:30 7:30 Senior Night
Tu. Apr. 18 East Hall * 5:30 7:30
Fr. Apr. 21 @ Union County * 5:30 7:30