Prep soccer: Sissonville coach looks for new leaders
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The 2013 three-week summer practice period for West Virginia high school athletes has been much different for Sissonville girls soccer coach Ali Sadeghian than in year's past.
Over the past four seasons Sadeghian has had the luxury of seeing former standout Lydia Murray on the pitch for the Indians.
That isn't the case anymore. Murray, the all-time leading goal scorer in Kanawha County girls soccer history, graduated last month and will attend the University of Charleston in the fall, leaving Sissonville with a huge void to fill.
Murray, the state Player of the Year in Class AA/A last year, scored 132 career goals, eclipsing former Sissonville standout Rebekah Kendall, who had 130.
"It's going to be big adjustment for us not having Lydia around," Sadeghian said. "It will have a big impact on us but it will provide an opportunity for others to step up to the challenge and make a name for themselves."
Losing Murray is a tough blow, but the cupboard is far from bare from a Sissonville team that was ranked No. 1 in Class AA/A to end the 2012 regular season, but lost to Charleston Catholic in the Region 4 final in a penalty kick shootout.
Besides Murray's 35 goals, Sissonville featured three of the top 10 goal scorers in the Kanawha Valley. Madison Jones was third among area scorers with 28 and Karli Pinkerton was 10th, with 19.
Jones and Pinkerton enjoyed solid seasons in their freshman campaigns, and Sadeghian will look for the two to pick up the scoring load even more when the season opens up in the fall.
To go along with Jones and Pinkerton, Sadeghian has a strong rising sophomore class, including goalkeeper Brooke Reed and Courtney Strobel.
"We are very fortunate to have our class of sophomores," Sadeghian said. "With Madison, Karli, Brooke, and Courtney, those four will provide us with a lot of support. It's great to have them coming back."
Sadeghian indicated juniors Taylor Legg and Taylor Rhodes, along with senior Mary Schmeck also return, giving him a strong nucleus of seven heading into the upcoming season.
"They have been tremendous," Sadeghian said. "We lost five spots from last year, so now we just need to fill those positions."
Sadeghian indicated the ongoing three-week practice period for isn't a huge emphasis for many returnees, but will give him a look at the upcoming freshmen that will compete for the remaining available slots.
"The summer schedule is normal for us," Sadeghian said. "Participation is not great. We have a lot of multi-sport athletes that are basketball-and softball-minded and then you add in family vacations."
The Indians haven't played in any tournaments during the three-week period, but do have two scrimmages scheduled for this week.
"We have had about a maximum of 10 players participating in the practices, but the scrimmages will be a good way for me to evaluate where we stand with the upcoming freshmen, and some of the returning reserve players, and how much they have improved," he said.
Contact sportswriter Christopher Wade at email@example.com or 304-348-1735.