For anyone who might have fallen asleep last year after soccer season and is just now waking up, not much has changed for the WCHS Lady Pioneers.
Katie Toney and Bekah Jackson are still rifling in goals. Bailey Bundy is too. Best of all, the Lady Pioneers look primed to have a dominating season in what will be a new-look district.
“We’re returning the core of our team so we’re pretty excited about that,” said WCHS coach Todd Willmore following practice Wednesday morning. “I feel good about this group. They have fun together and they genuinely like each other. The only bit of uncertainty is we’ll be in a new district.”
TSSAA realignment goes into effect this coming school year and every WCHS team is impacted. The new district for soccer contains just four teams – Coffee County, Shelbyville, Franklin County and Warren County.
Longtime rivals like Cookeville and Soddy Daisy are not just gone from the district, coach Willmore said he was unable to arrange for them to be on the schedule at all.
“It will seem weird not playing Cookeville and Soddy Daisy,” admitted Willmore. “We’ve played them for years.”
Wednesday’s practice featured conditioning and individual drills before players competed in 3-on-3 action on a short field.
Toney showed why she’s been an all-state performer the past two seasons as she was able to score anytime she gained separation from the defender. The power and accuracy of her shots is expected to make her one of the premier players in all of Tennessee.
Bailey Bundy showed she’s an offensive weapon with some impressive moves that got her free for 1-on-1 matchups with the goalie. She scored four times.
Carmen Verdel, who came on strong at the end of last season as a freshman, appears ready to assume a more prominent role as a sophomore. She scored twice.
Bekah Jackson is back and she promises to command plenty of attention in what will be her junior year. She had one of the most impressive plays of the day to end practice when she juked defenders on her way to a goal.
In addition to Katie Toney, the senior class is filled with seasoned players with plenty of experience including Shelby Roberts, Natalie Stepien, Breezy Wanamaker, Jaden Smartt, Jessica Chastain, Samantha Perez and Alondra Parada.
WCHS girls soccer season is scheduled to start Tuesday, Aug. 17 with a road game in Ooltewah. The Lady Pioneers are scheduled to play their first home game the following Tuesday.