The Lynchburg Clay Mustangs Soccer team is looking to take a step forward following a 15-2-2 season in 2017 that saw them reach the finals of the District Tournament where they fell by a score of 4-3 to South Webster.
First year Head Coach Jason West, the nephew of former longtime boys head coach and current girls head coach Dennis West, points to a berth in the Regional Tournament as the goal for the Mustangs in 2018.
“The team strives to continue the tradition of strong SHAC play. We have stumbled getting out of the District tournament in recent years, thus, taking that next step to the Regional tournament was the first goal established by this group,” said Jason.
Dennis has equally high expectations for the Lady Mustangs after leading them to an 18-3 record and a berth in the Regional Finals where the girls lost to Grandview Heights by a score of 2-1.
“We expect to do well in our league and make a significant run in the tournament. Our previous teams have set a very high standard,” Dennis said.
Dennis continued by saying, “We want to continue our unbeaten streak in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference and get through the District tournament and back to the Regionals.”
When asked about the difference between the 2017 Lady Mustangs and this season’s version Dennis said, “We have a very experienced group. We also have a large and talented group of freshmen joining the program. Our numbers are up and so is the overall talent level.”
Jason talked about the leadership of the upperclassmen for the Mustangs and made it clear that the team will go as far as the seasoned players can take them.
“We have a strong upperclassmen presence. They have played some very talented competition over the past 3 years and are poised to lead this team to a successful season,” Jason said.
Dennis has a strong group of returning players that he feels will lead the team this season, in addition to the 17 upperclassmen on the team Dennis also expects to see contributions from freshmen and sophomores in 2018.
“Our 8 seniors will be expected to provide the leadership. Seven of the them have been in the soccer program for 4 years. They have experience and skills. We always look for all of our players to improve each day. We lost several midfielders to graduation so the players moving in to those positions will be given an opportunity to contribute,” said Dennis.
Dennis is also pleased with the level of talent on all levels currently in the program and thinks the team is set up to succeed now and in the future.
“Our upperclassmen, 17 seniors and juniors, are as capable as any group I have had the privilege to coach. When you add the sophomores and freshmen to them, we feel that this season will be successful and the future looks bright,” Dennis said.
Jason and Dennis will both be looking for their teams and players to improve every day.
“We are led by sound upperclassmen leadership with an ever developing technical skill set. The sophomore and freshman class add speed and athleticism that push the team, as a whole, in the direction of needed improvement. We have a group of hard workers that want to get better, and by doing so, improve the strengths of the entire team,” said Jason.
Dennis talked about the depth on the bench for the Lady Mustangs and assured that the team would take full advantage of it in 2018.
“Our bench will be as deep as it has been in several years. We will have no hesitation to use it. Most of our top scorers are back as well as most of our defenders and goalie. We have struggled with injuries to at least four of our players. It is a slow recovery process with some of them but thankfully we have others to cover for them,” Dennis said.
Both coaches ended by taking the time to invite community members to come out and support the Mustangs and Lady Mustangs this fall.
“We have a very entertaining style of play. We have several players that will make you appreciate the time you spent watching them,” said Dennis.
“Support from the Mustang community is always very strong. Coach Dennis West has created a tremendous soccer tradition at Lynchburg-Clay and the boys want nothing more than to continue to add to the legacy. The community will have the opportunity to see excellent soccer, enjoy a comfortable game experience in our fine facility and partake of one of the best ran concession stands in Ohio! I can’t think of anything better to do on a fall weekday evening in southeast Ohio,” Jason finished.
August 21 – Both teams travel to Greenfield to take on the Tigers and Lady Tigers in a cross-county rivalry match.
August 23 – The Mustangs and Lady Mustangs will look to correct mistakes that were made last season against Western Brown when the boys played to a tie and the girls suffered a 2-0 defeat.
September 20 – The Mustangs will look to wright another wrong from the 2017 season when they host Wilmington.
October 6 – Both teams will be looking forward to this matchup as Alexander visits Lynchburg. The boys will look to earn a victory after falling to Albany in the second game last season. The girls will look for a repeat of their 4-1 District Tournament Final win.
October 12 – Lynchburg-Clay will host cross-county rivals the Lions and Lady Lions of Fairfield in the final home match of the season.
Both teams have established a history of dominance in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference (SHAC) and it is likely that the returning talent for both teams will be more than any other SHAC team will be able to handle.
The true measure of success for the Mustangs and Lady Mustangs will be how well they perform in tournament play. Both teams have the opportunity to make it to their respective Regional Finals and possible the Final Four.
Expect to see both teams play an exciting and fast paced game while stifling opposing offenses.
Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.