(Final of a two-part preview of Farragut-area high school girls soccer teams)
Farragut Lady Admirals
As Kristen Lyons begins her second season as Farragut High School girls soccer coach, she has some lofty expectations.
“Our goal is that we’re going to be in the state tournament for sure,” Lyons said at the recent KIL Girls Soccer Jamboree. “That is not just my goal, that’s the goal for the girls. That’s the goal for our whole team.
“I know that sounds aggressive, but if I thought any less it would be a disservice to our girls and what they’ve done this summer,” she added.
During preseason drills last year, some players struggled with conditioning. There were, however, no angry words.
Lyons finished the drills with the players.
“This game is very mentally draining,” she said. “And you can’t expect the players to do something if you’re not willing to do it yourself.
“These girls hold each other accountable,” Lyons added.
Farragut went 13-6-3 last season, with all of its losses coming to three teams. The Lady Admirals lost to Maryville three times, Bearden twice and Knoxville West once.
“Two of our biggest strengths will be depth off the bench and technical skill on the ball,” she said.
Farragut has a crop of talented returners back, which include Caroline Ekern (senior, goalkeeper); Emmie Harville (senior, midfielder); Annabelle Ekern (sophomore, midfielder); Madilyn Stark (senior, forward); Lexi Foley (senior, midfielder); Lauren Leslie (sophomore, midfielder); Chloe Chase (senior, midfielder); and Maddie Blum (senior, midfielder).
Freshman defender Addie Lilly also will look to make a rapid impact during her first season.
Knox Catholic Lady Irish
The Knoxville Catholic High School girls soccer team has more than a few familiar faces back as it prepares for the upcoming 2021 season.
The Lady Irish will be a team with a bevy of seniors back from last year’s squad that went 7-3-1 while playing a limited schedule. They were eliminated by Father Ryan in the state quarterfinals.
“If there’s a year for us to win the region, this is the year,” said Mason McNally, who begins his second season as KCHS head coach. “After this year, we have a mass exodus of seniors leaving.
“We have good senior leadership, but I’ve got some young girls who are pushing them,” he added. “On some teams, you have a big drop-off between your older players and your younger players. As far as raw soccer talent, our young girls are really talented. They’re just trying to figure out how we play.
“Our senior leadership will be a strength for us, and we have character.”
Top returners for Catholic include Ceci Pumariega (senior, midfielder); Rachel Brettin (senior, midfielder); Sydney Clements (a junior who will primarily play in the midfield, but will move based on the Lady Irish’s formation); and Mary Eunice (a junior, who will see time at both forward and defender).
Other top returnee are Ava Grover (a senior who returns to the team after a one-year hiatus. She can play both forward and defender); Jenna Hancock (senior, forward); Bella Flask (senior, defender); Lainy Cox (senior, defender); and Maria Coco (senior, goalkeeper).
Key newcomers include Jenna Clements (freshman, forward); Natalie Stobb (freshman midfielder/defender); and Sarah Pollock (freshman, defender).
CCS Lady Lions
In his seventh season coaching Concord Christian School girls soccer, Jason Jennings knows all about how the Lady Lions operate.
But in his second season as CCS head coach, this Concord Christian team has to have a short memory about portions of the 2020 season — no region victories. In addition to dealing with the pandemic, “We got hit with injuries,” Jennings said. “... We didn’t have any seniors last year, so we were really young.”
However, “There’s lots of improvement,” he added. “We’re a year older, and the girls have been working hard.”
Top returnees are Grace Davis, senior center-fullback; Jalen Spiller, junior midfielder; and Kylie Phillips, senior goalkeeper.
Others looking to contribute are juniors Ellie Gleason, Brooke Strong, Jacey Kate Jennings, Raleigh Jack Walker, Maddie Starkey and Brielle Hendren; sophomores Lexi Esteppe and Gabriela Jacobs; and freshmen Sara Gilder, Molly Spiller, Olivia Heatherly and Emily Anderson.