With Shane Maulin as the coach a season ago, the Lady Vikings posted an 18-1-1 record on the way to the second round of the Class AAAAA playoffs. But now Tom Collop, who has head coaching experience from his days in Mississippi and South Carolina, is at the helm.
“We’re trying to build possession soccer,” Collop said. “That is our game. We want to take what the other team gives us as far as getting the ball out of the back. I’m trying to get the girls to build the play out of the back even if we have to let the defender work the ball up the field.”
Leading goal scorer Shannon Hagopian (senior) and assist leader Brittanie Evans (junior) are back to lead the way along with the county’s best goaltender Ashlee Graham (junior).
“Shannon is definitely a leader on the offense,” Collop said. “She is a senior captain and takes a lot of pride in the team.”
Hagopian was sixth in goals last season in the county with 22 and Evans set a county record with 40 assists.
“I think they are a pretty good team,” Collop said. “We are a little young in the midfield--that is where you want to be strong but we’re strong in the back on defense. I’m trying to develop a little more consistent play out of the midfield. That is the part of our team that needs the most improvement.”
Another challenge Collop believes his team will have to overcome is an improved schedule, which includes games against McIntosh (Mar. 11), Paideia (Apr. 17) and Parkview (Apr. 22)
“We have a little better schedule this year than we had last year--more quality opponents,” Collop said. “We feel like our non-region competition is going to prepare us probably more for the playoffs than our region competition. We have dominated the region in the past and I hope we do so as well this year but everything changes--people get better.”