Lady Bobcats strive for improvement
It's time for an encore performance by the Basehor-Linwood girls soccer team. After doubling their win total last season (from four the previous year to eight) the Lady Bobcats return a team to be reckoned with.
"It was a breakout season for us," coach Kevin Vincent said. "That put us on the radar as one of the competitive teams in the area."
BLHS finished 8-8 in regular season play. The Lady 'Cats received a tough draw in the first round of the post-season, and lost to KC Christian 1-0.
The loss had a silver lining.
"KC Christian beat us earlier in the season pretty good and we came back (in the post-season) and made it close and had chances to pull it out," Vincent said.
The Lady 'Cats will return just about everyone from last season's breakout squad. They lost no seniors from the starting lineup, although Brittney Ewan, a second-team All-League performer, decided not to return for her senior season.
"We look pretty good," Vincent said. "We have almost everyone returning. Everyone is a year older and more experienced. We have scoring threats and our defense is solid."
BLHS had a record number of girls turn out this season, a culmination of the excitement surrounding the program. 40 girls went out for the team this season, an incredible number when considering that two seasons ago the team only had 20.
"We don't just have girls out; they are all interested in making the program better," Vincent said.
There will be no one cut. Vincent beefed up the junior varsity schedule by adding a couple of games in order to accommodate the growing roster.
The new players will not just represent extraneous depth. The coach has found some future contributors to the varsity team.
"We had a few freshmen that I didn't know were coming in that will be solid players for us," Vincent said. "There have been a few players that have surprised me."
The team began practicing on February 26. Since then, an emphasis has been placed on fundamentals and conditioning, according to Vincent.
Jessica Smith is among the returning stars. Smith was 1st-team all-league last season and 2nd-team all-state.
"She is very consistent, and she has great breakaway speed," Vincent said. "She knows how to put the ball in the net; she has the innate ability to finish. She is always in the right place at the right time.
"It is very important for us because if we are down, she gives us the feeling that we can get that goal. We never feel like we are out of it with Jessica on our team."
Smith finished with 21 goals last season.
Shanna Couch also finished 1st-team all-league and 2nd-team all-state.
"She is one of the keys to our team," Vincent said. "She bridges gap between our offense and defense. She sets up a lot of goals that we have by advancing the ball. She has great vision. She won't quit. She has a lot of heart."
Couch led the team in assists.
The Lady Bobcats' coach is looking forward to this season.
"The main goal is to improve upon last year," Vincent said. "To win a regional game and move onto the next level is a team goal.