Turning around Augusta’s girls soccer program might seem like a tall order, but Casie Davis is looking forward to the opportunity to be the head coach who pulls it off.
The Orioles have struggled to find wins throughout the past several seasons. But Davis, who was hired to replace coach Monty Rowland last summer, has a plan. Rather than simply judging the Orioles’ efforts solely on winning and losing, Davis wants to break down Augusta’s improvements on a smaller scale, which she believes will lead to wins.
“We’ve talked about making individual goals, because right now, I think all of them are so focused on ‘We want to win,’ but we’re setting individual goals for each practice and each game,” Davis said.
For each game, Davis will measure one specific area more closely to get the team to focus on the little improvements. Of course, the team wants to play good soccer every match, but each game will have different focuses. Davis said the Orioles already have started with season goals of getting better fit, getting better first touches and being hard workers with good attitudes. The team decided the first goal it will have for the season opener Tuesday, March 25 at Circle, is better communication.
“We need to talk more. The more we talk, the more we’ll know, and eventually we’ll get to that point where we’ll just know what to do, trusting each other,” said Shelby Clay, a returning junior who will be a key forward for the Orioles.
Getting in better shape has been no easy task for the Orioles. Running drills, including 120s—where they sprint the length of the field down and back—have forced them to get used to covering more ground and learn how to play well while tired.
“We definitely need to be in shape,” said Kaeley Hansen, a senior and captain for the Orioles. “We’ve always had a problem with being in shape. Towards the beginning of the season, we’re doing a lot more sprints. As we all got into [better] shape, we’re especially doing a lot more ball stuff, ball control, and we scrimmaged really early on, which I think is a great thing.”
Hansen and Sydney Drouillard, a junior who is the team’s other captain, have embraced Davis and her new style.
“She’s hardcore. She pushes us a lot more…I like it,” Drouillard said.
Droulliard described Davis’ teaching methods as a play-by-play of sorts. In the middle of a scrimmage, Davis will stop everything to teach a specific point to all the players, all the while staying positive.
“She makes sure the whole team has a positive vibe about it,” Hansen said. “…After the past season, that’s what we needed.”
Davis has some returning talent as well as a big new group of younger players. She has a big hole to fill in goal after losing a four-time All-State keeper. But Hansen returns as the team’s stopper on defense, and she will be a vocal leader for the back row. Newcomer Bailey Carr will handle the sweeper role, and Meagan Grantham should bring a big boost on defense. Davis said the outside defenders will vary quite a bit until she finds a lineup with which she feels comfortable.
“The girls know that nothing is set in stone, and it can change on who is playing harder...,” Davis said.
Brittany Johnson, who showed a lot of improvement as a freshman a year ago, will roam the midfield, as will Drouillard and Lydia Ehrmann.
Clay, the team speedster, and sophomore Clarice Dalziel will handle the forward positions as they look to getting a lot of Augusta’s scoring done.
There are 10 freshmen and eight sophomores with little to no experience whom Davis is excited to see what they can bring to the field. She even puts a positive spin on not having experience.
“The good thing about it is I don’t have bad habits I have to break. I can start fresh,” Davis said.