By LOGAN DARNELL
Coal Valley News
MADISON - The 2019 girls' soccer season is full of exciting potential for Scott High School. The team, which enjoyed a sectionals run in 2018, has a good mix of players for the upcoming year. The girls have a large group of juniors ready to take the field with eight, followed by six sophomores, four freshmen, and two seniors.
Coach Del Kimbler is happy with the variety of offensive, defensive and midfield options available on the roster. The team's chemistry and speed are notable, which Kimbler looks forward to seeing in the year. Smart substitutions will be key to maintaining that speed over matches and over the season.
For improvements, Kimbler wants to see the defensive side grow, particularly in the midfield.
Senior and team captain Diana Birchfield has committed her entire high school career to the team and was an All-State-caliber player in 2018. The center midfielder's level-headed leadership style and field control has made her a respected captain for the team. While she will keep the role the entire season, the team is trying out a method where the team determines assistant captains on a weekly basis in order to prepare for matches and let different girls take responsibility over time.
Junior left midfielder Lilly Bias is a three-year starter and a student athlete who has garnered attention from different schools with her ability to facilitate the ball, assist in the attack, and score when the opportunity arises.
Sophomore Baylee Dunlap is another speedy scorer who facilitates the ball well. Jon'C Atkinson has made enough of an impression that Coach Kimbler sees her as a freshman starter who can get forward minutes.
After the departure of ace goalkeeper Ally Matthews, Scott has found replacements in sophomore Jayden Elkins and junior Emma Harmon. The two multisport athletes will receive GK minutes over the year. Another multisport player is track star Jenna Handley, who is the fastest runner on the team and who has already been courted by WVU's track program.
The team has also had the opportunity to field Scott High's foreign exchange student, junior Berta Pintado. Pintado hails from Madrid, Spain, and is a proud fan of the world-famous club Real Madrid, who are a giant presence in Europe. She has been warmly welcomed by Scott's boys and girls' soccer teams, and has been enjoying her time in West Virginia. "We want to grow this culture for soccer here," says Coach Kimbler. "Last year, we finished 18th in the state. This year, I would love to be Top 10 Each year, we've improved, and I want to improve again."
Riverside, Capital, South Charleston, and St. Albans are only a few of the challenging competitors the Lady Skyhawks must face in their schedule, which has been upped from last year's. The mixture of established AA and AAA teams is what Kimbler hopes will prepare them for tournaments.
"My philosophy is that you've got to play better to get better," he says.
Scott High School's soccer program is emerging as a competitor in the region, and the schedule reflects these expectations.
Scott's next game will be at Point Pleasant Senior/Middle School on Aug. 31 at 1 p.m. Their next home game will be against Lincoln County High School on Sept. 3 at 8 p.m.