The Lady Mustangs of Lynchburg-Clay are coming into the 2015 season hoping to get back and maybe improve on a regional finals loss in 2014. The loss came at the hands of the eventual state champion Hamilton Badin.
Coming into this year the girls are league Southern Hills Athletic Conference champions four years running, sectional champions five years running and district champions the past two years.
Head Coach Dennis West is beginning his 14th year with the Lady Mustangs and even though this season has started with a lost player, West has every confidence in his team.
“We lost Bailey Leininger before the season started to a season-ending knee surgery,” West said of what would have been the starting goalie. “However, McKayla Binkley stepped up and said she would take on the job for us this year. McKayla is just an athlete. Wendy Martin, my assistant and a former goalie here, has been working with her almost on a daily basis. McKayla is quick and has great hands. It’s just going to be a matter of getting her acclimated to when to come out of the goal and when not to come out. We have no doubts in our minds that she is going to be able to handle the position. She also won’t be alone to handle the duties. Lexi Waits and Peyton Scott are also great athletes and will be helping McKayla.”
Angela McLaughlin, a sophomore this year, came in last year and gave the team quite a boost in scoring and defense. This season, Coach West believes she will be able to do the same things.
“Angela is a great athlete and did a lot of good things for us last season,” West said. But where she made the most impact was marking people. During a game with Eastern last year we were down 5-2 basically because of one girl. We put Angela on her and she barely touched the ball the rest of the game. From that point forward, if we went up against a team that had someone who we thought could be an offensive threat we had Angela marking her. From the moment we started that in the second half of the Eastern game, all the way up through the regional finals game, she did not give up a goal to the person she was marking.”
“I feel pretty good about our chances in the league this year,” West said when asked how his team stacked up in the SHAC. “I feel like we are in good shape physically and we are experienced with what it takes to go out and win in the league.
“Beyond the league, we’re going to be running into a lot of the same people. We’re getting a lot more girls teama in the Southeast District and I’m not sure how long it will take for them to catch up competitively, but my feeling is that it will be sooner rather than later because there are some really good girls players in this district who, unfortunately in the past, had to play on the boys teams. So I feel like some of those teams are going to be strong pretty quick. But I still feel good. We’ve done well the past several years in the district tournament and I think we should expect nothing less this year.
“We’re probably going to stay as strong as we can along the way, doing what we do best, which is playing physical, fast-paced soccer, trying to move the ball as much as we can. Against the Hamilton Badins of the world you just have to try and stop most of their scoring. Last year we stopped their two top scorers and they got goals from girls who weren’t even on our radar. When you run up against teams like that you just hope they’re having a bad day and you’re having a tremendously good one.
“We have 20 girls on the roster this year and we’re not hesitant about any of them. Our goal is to wear the other teams down and we intend on using everyone on the roster to do that.”
Reach Robert Stegbauer at 937-393-3456 ext. 1679 or on Twitter @RStegbauer.