PITSBURG – After a deep run into the playoffs last year for the Franklin Monroe Lady Jets soccer team and exceeding many of the team’s goals, this year may not be as successful. Coach Scott Howell admits his team is down a little bit this year.
Noticeably absent from this year’s roster will be the school’s all-time leading scorer, Allison Manning, a 2014 graduate. It will take a team effort and an enormous effort from last year’s second highest scorer on the team, sophomore Bryanna Diceanu for this team to get back on track. Joining Diceanu in that effort will be this year’s seniors, Jordan Stickley, Ashton Shellabarger, Allison Flora, and Jenna King. All of them will be leaned on for their leadership and skill on the field.
Only two freshmen, Nychelle Cool and Rayna Horner, are joining this year’s team, but both are good quality players.
In limited pre-season action, Horner and Diceanu showed flashes of what fans can expect on a regular basis later in this season and in the next couple of years. Howell believes the more the two forwards work together the better they will become.
The lack of work in the off season may mean a slow start for the Jets. They were originally scheduled to play 15 games this summer, but due to vacations and a shortage of players the team was only able to get in five games.
The shortage of players will continue into the regular season. The Lady Jets will have two substitutes available on the sideline. That number will be reduced to one for the first two games of the season. Ashton Shellabarger will be out both of those games due to an injury in a scrimmage. She is expected to return for their Sept. 4 game with Newton at home.
Howell believes his team will improve the more they work together. “We are going to work on basics,” he said. “I expect to improve daily.”
Who does the coach believe will shine this year? Without hesitation his response was sophomore Allyson Masterson. Masterson started every game as goal keeper during her freshman year and Howell believes she is better equipped this year. He noted she has worked hard to learn the position and should do real well this year.
Additional team members include juniors Cassie Shellabarger and Hannah Staton, and sophomores Jessica Hinshaw, Beth Kirkpatrick, and Saige Morrie.
The Lady Jets took a 3-0 win in their season opener against National Trail on Aug. 28. Senior Jordan Stickley led the Jets with two goals. Allyson Flora, senior, hit a header in the eighth minute to get the Jets on the board and score the first goal of the season.
Freshman Rayna Horner battles with a National Trail defender for the ball. (Ryan Berry photo)