Coach Monty Rowland has been in the difficult position of having younger players join the team with not a lot of returning experienced players the past few seasons.
As Augusta's girls soccer team gets set for its season opener tonight at home against state runner-up Trinity Academy, Rowland knows there will be some challenges up ahead. Still, he has expectations for the Orioles to work hard and improve every game.
Senior Taylor Childers has been the rock in goal for the Orioles since she began starting on varsity her freshman year. While Childers has earned multiple All-State honors, she also knows realistically she will face plenty of challenges after the Orioles struggled to protect her most of last season.
"You have to learn from it. Being a goalkeeper is all about instinct," Childers said. "If you make a misjudgment, it reflects on you, but you have to put it aside and make a mental note for later."
It has been Childers' hard work that earned a reputation, and she lets that be part of her motivation to get even better.
The defense in front of her likely will consist of Haley Schild and Sydney Drouillard, who helped defensively last year. Rowland said he will move Shelby Clay, the Orioles' top forward from a year ago who had some breakout moments, to defense for their opener against Trinity Academy. The Knights lit up the Orioles for 50 shots on frame last season. Clay's biggest impact undoubtedly will be up front, though. She's the fastest player on the team, and she even said she's won races at practices to prove it.
Despite only being a sophomore, Clay has taken on leadership qualities in helping her younger teammates.
"Just little things here and there that they need help with," Clay said. "Sometimes you need a little push and motivation. I just want us to get better as a team."
Junior Kaeley Hansen played outside midfield for the Orioles last year. Rowland might move her to forward to help the offense at times, but Hansen will be a key midfielder.
"I think Kaeley Hansen will help us out a lot. She's really starting to pick it up," Rowland said.
Three freshmen girls— Brittany Johnson, Meagan Grantham and Clarice Dalziel—likely will get starting positions and be significant contributors.
"We've got some decent athletes this year," Rowland said.