Prep soccer: GW first-year coach has high hopes
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Prep soccer in the Kanawha Valley saw its own version of a coaching carousel this offseason.
Hurricane's Jim Dagostine stepped down as coach of the Redskins' boys, which opened the door for George Washington girls coach Derek Ragle to return to guide his alma mater.
The Patriots did not have to search hard for Ragle's replacement as former state player of the year Megan Johnson jumped at the chance to coach her alma mater.
"My dream was to always go back and coach GW so when I found out this position was open I couldn't believe it," Johnson, who played collegiately at Alderson Broaddus, said. "They offered me the job and I couldn't turn it down. Charleston is home for me and that's my old school."
Johnson, a 2009 GW graduate, played four years for the Battlers after a high school career that included a player of the year award in 2007 during her junior season as the Patriots advanced to the state semifinals. A first grade teacher at Chamberlain Elementary, Johnson said she is ready for her first experience as a coach at the high school level.
"I know exactly what the girls are going through," she said. "I've been there through tough times and good times in high school soccer. I've been through a lot and want to give back to the girls what I've learned."
Last season GW lost to Winfield 4-2 in overtime in the Class AAA state championship game. The bulk of that team returns to make another run at winning the Patriots' first state title in girls soccer.
"We have a lot of returning players. Honestly, overall the whole team is so good," she said. "I can change the starting lineup to other girls and anybody that comes in off the bench is strong. It's a coach's dream."
Johnson mentioned junior goalkeeper Olivia Miller as a player to watch, but added that because the talent is spread throughout her team no player in particular is a star. That will be important as GW tries to make it back to the state tournament under a rookie head coach.
"It is a lot of pressure but like I said, I've been through it," Johnson said. "I played in the state tournament and I know what needs to be done in practice to get there. I know the motivation that needs to be involved. I'm there to make the girls better, motivate them and make them champions."
George Washington begins its season today when the Patriots host Riverside at 5 p.m. at Trace Fork.
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IN CLASS AA/A, Sissonville must replace Lydia Murray, Kanawha County's all-time leading scorer and 2012 Class AA/A state player of the year, who moved on to the University of Charleston. The task of filling the void left by Murray will fall to sophomores Madison Jones and Karli Pinkerton.
As freshmen, Jones finished with 28 goals (3rd in the Kanawha Valley) and Pinkerton tallied 19 goals (10th in the Kanawha Valley). The Indians' sophomore class will a big part of any success they have this season, with Courtney Strobel and goalkeeper Brooke Reed also figuring into the lineup for Coach Ali Sadeghian.
Sissonville ended the 2012 regular season ranked No. 1 in Class AA/A, but was upset on penalty kicks in the Region 4 championship game by Charleston Catholic. The Indians' first game this season is at 5 p.m. today at Herbert Hoover.
Contact sportswriter Tom Bragg at email@example.com or 304-348-4871. Follow him on Twitter @TomBraggSports.