“So many young players got varsity experience and I’m pleased with their progress, but we still have a long way to go,” said head coach Lee Johnson.
This season is one of learning fundamentals as the Tigers lost 14 players from last season — 10 graduated and four moved away.
“Experience is by far the biggest weakness we have,” Johnson said.
Preparing for this season was different from past seasons as Johnson said the team did not focus as much on conditioning as they usually would due to the lack of experience on the team.
“We have a lot of young players and some that have never played [soccer] before so we did some conditioning, but it was mostly about getting touches,” Johnson said.
Johnson will start four or five freshmen this season.
This season, Adairsville has three key returners – senior Josh Lehto and Joe Varner and junior Gabriel Lopez.
Lehto is a midfielder and the team captain and according to Johnson, “the unquestioned leader of this team.”
Varner is also a midfielder and described by Johnson as “the most complete, well-rounded player” he has.
Lopez is an attacking midfielder and is said by Johnson to be attracting some college attention soon.
These three players make up the strength of this team.
“We have a very strong midfield that can hold and contain the ball for a while. We don’t have a lot of depth there, but we have three strong starters there,” Johnson said.
Also a key for the team is second-year starter, junior Nic Lawhorn, at goalkeeper.
With such a young team, the goal for this season is long term and doesn’t have a focus on a final win-loss record.
“Our goal is to grow as a team and lay a solid foundation for seasons to come. I see this team overcoming challenges others couldn’t since they’re all young and in this together. The record at the end of the season may not be what we’re accustomed to but I’ll be proud of them regardless,” said Johnson.