By Luke Wiggs, Panhandle News Network Sports
Hedgesville, W.Va. – Allison Janney began her Hedgesville girls soccer head coaching career with a bang in 2019, winning 18 games and finishing as the state runner-up.
After 14 seniors departed that 2019 squad a step rebuild began. The Eagles won just a single game in the abbreviated 2020 season but rallied well last year finishing 7-7-4.
“I think there were still some times last year that we were still kind of young, and we were a little bit lighter on numbers.” Janney said. “But overall it was good, they did well, and the majority of them are back this year.”
Squad depth has continued to grow for the Eagles and with it emerges the question as to how they will line up as a team this season.
“This is a really good problem that we have this year” Janney said about their potential scheme. “We have 23 girls this year and they’re all decent players so we don’t know yet.”
While there are some uncertainties in personnel, some stalwart players return from a season ago, including keeper Linday Poplin and defender Kali Yates.
“She’s awesome defensively.” Janney said of Yates. “She does really well back there.”
Hedgesville also possesses one of the more unique players in the panhandle with senior Tessa Grisez.
“We love Tessa, she usually plays midfield but we use her as a utility player also.” Janney said. “She makes a difference wherever you put her.”
Out wide, the Eagles plan to rely on Julia Burton for her ability to deliver balls into the box.
“She has awesome crosses.” Janney said. “She makes them look effortless.”
Those players aside, the quality of depth continues to improve for Hedgesville, allowing the ability for some of the pressure to be elevated off their senior’s shoulders.
“I think it’s going to be good for them because I feel like in previous years they felt more of the pressure on them to do well.” Janney said. “And this year there’s a lot of options to help throughout the team.”
In their quest for growth, Hedgesville will do battle, as always, in the EPAC conference, presenting 5 very tough opponents for Hedgesville this season.
“When it comes to our conference we are pretty equally matched around the area.” Janney said. “I think we are going to be very competitive with them.”
Hedgesville begins the season on August 25th, home against Musselman.