by David Grimes
With seven starters back off of last year’s 8-2 team, the North Cross girls soccer team are aiming for first place in the Blue Ridge Conference this spring.
Suiting up for the Raiders, who finished 17-5 overall last year are, eighth-graders Sarah Maurer, Campbell Lake and Mary Kate Graeff. Freshmen Hope Pollock, Avery Sturm, Anna Robison, Sarah Shaff, and Annie Elwell. Sophomores Paxton Helmer, Anna Cooper and Rosalie List. Juniors Anna Sawyer, India Helmer, Ragan Comer, Lyndsey Barker, Madison Altice, Gussie Revercomb and Ashley Donaho. Seniors Rachael Wright and Nikki Bates.
“While we graduated the best player in the conference Hallie Martin and first team all-conference Kaki Comer, we are returning four all-conference players and three other starters. India Helmer, who tallied 46 points last year, will have more a leadership role this season with the absence of Martin. Ragan Comer returning from a season ending knee injury is also key in anchoring down the back with so many young players around her. Hope Pollock, Avery Sturm, Anna Robison, Anna Sawyer, Rachael Wright logged major minutes last season and should have big years with expanded roles this season. The addition of Sarah Maurer in goal is also a great addition to our team. Sarah is one of the best goalkeepers in the state for her age level, and make a defense that was stout last year even better,” said head coach James Brown.
The coach further added, “This year’s team has the potential to have a solid year. With that said, we are very young. Several players gained valuable experience last year, but the learning curve will still be there. Learning from our young mistakes is key.”
As for the top matches of the season for the Raiders, they include the VES Invitational, which features some of the top teams in the state and the biggest match of the season will be against Eastern Mennonite in April. “Last year, they (Eastern Mennonite) were our only loss and my team is looking forward to the challenge,” added Brown.
“Graduating nine seniors is never easy. However, I am very excited about the prospects of this team. I believe we are faster, more technical as a whole, and deeper than we were last year. Once we come together and learn our roles, we will be a very tough outing for most teams,” Brown said.
North Cross opens its season on Tuesday, March 13, at home against Roanoke Catholic.