• Rick Capone, Sports Editor

WCHS girls’ soccer to field young, talented team

CAITLYN BURDINE is just one of the players to watch on the Woodford County High School girls' soccer team this year. (Photo by Rick Capone)

The Woodford County High School girls’ soccer team will field a lot of young players this year, which includes eight freshmen who have seen playing time in the preseason. However, with a mix of experienced upperclassman, the outlook for another successful season is very good, as the Lady Jackets attempt to win their seventh straight district title. They’ve won the last four in the 41st District (2012 to 2015), then two others in the 25th District (2010, 2011) “That’s quite a bit of districts, so I guess the expectations are there,” said third-year head coach Brad Turpin, Jr. “We’ve been starting five or six freshmen all preseason games, so that makes it a little bit interesting. I’m not sure they’re old enough to understand the expectations for districts (yet). But it’s a good group.” As to the mix of players Turpin will have, he said, “We’ve got about 41 players. Eight seniors, eight juniors, five sophomores, 12 freshmen, seven eighth graders and one seventh grader. So, we are freshmen-heavy all around.” This season, Turpin will look to three players as his team’s leaders – seniors Caitlyn Burdine and Camyrn Pictor and junior Lauren Rankin. All three are team captains as well. Burdine, a forward most of her high school career, will have a different role on the team this year. “What’s interesting is, Burdine, (who) is, obviously, one of our most talented players, is very effective all over the field,” said Turpin. “She’s assuming a different role for us this season in the midfield; more of a distributor and a play maker. She’ll still be able to finish a few times and help us there. … (But), she’s going to be great. She’s adjusting. We’ll get her going in the right direction. “Camryn Pictor will be replacing Jessie Turner (who graduated). … She’ll be in the middle with junior Makayla (Devore, who was all-region last year) in the back. That’ll bring some tactical awareness back there, with Makayla’s athleticism. It’s going to be an interesting combination. “Then you have junior Lauren Rankin, who the players picked as a captain. So, that was pretty neat for that to happen. She’ll be in the center midfield, too. She’ll get a lot of touches on the ball.” Another move Turpin made is moving senior Leila Graf to goalkeeper. She played in the middle and forward last season. “Leila Graf has assumed the responsibilities in goal, which was great,” said Turpin. “She showed an immediate interest after last season. She played some goalie as a youth. So, it’s not something necessarily new to her. So, she filled in a hole that Addie Martin (goalkeeper last year) left for us. We’ve got some younger goalkeepers, (too), but Leila’s done a great job so far. I mean, she’s six-foot tall and very intimidating. “She reads the game. She’s played field so long, for the last two, three years, that she’s able to read the ball coming through, and is able to come out and intercept it, which is great. And then crosses on corner kicks. Again, six-foot tall and then with her wingspan... We’ve just got to get her a little more confident.” Backing her up will be junior Kristen Jordan, who played in the preseason. She’s played in the field in some junior varsity games as well. Other players to watch include senior Jessel Martinez, who Turpin says has improved dramatically since last year; junior Ashton Moore, who saw some time in the preseason game against Model; sophomores Jasmine Collins, who was a starter all last year and plays outside midfield; Makenzie Delmonico, who was injured last year and will get some playing time this year; Kali Ratcliff, who will see some time on varsity this year and, according to Turpin, is athletic and not afraid of contact; and Savannah Karbach, who is very athletic, quick and competitive. In addition, senior Emma Sandman will be returning in mid-August from India where she’s been going to school. She saw a lot of playing time last year and will be a big boost to the team once she gets back up to speed. As for the freshman, there are eight of them and they are all very talented. Shelbi Morrison is one of the freshman to watch. She was recently selected as a U.S. Soccer Region 2 pool. She’s one of the top players in the state. Morrison and Makenzie Tucker will see time at forward, as will Kailee Nobles. In the back outside, look for Raegan Gilbert and Isabel Taylor to see a lot of playing time. Also, Emma Oberlander has seen time at outside midfield, as has Ava Crawford and Carter Hays. The Lady Jackets have played five games so far in the preseason. Three in the Bluegrass State Games, where they finished 3-0. Then, they’ve also defeated Bryan Station at home, Monday, Aug. 8, and Model on the road in Richmond on Thursday, Aug. 11. In the game against Bryan Station, Woodford won 3-0 on goals by Burdine, Tucker and Oberlander. Assists were made by Tucker, Rankin and Morrison, respectively. Against Model, Woodford won 7-1 on goals by Tucker (2), Burdine (2), Rankin and Morrison, along with an own goal. Assists were by Morrison and Hays on Tucker’s two goals, Morrison on Burdine’s goal, Morrison on Rankin’s goal, and Nobels on Morrison’s goal. As for his coaching staff, Turpin returns all of his assistants from last season, which “gives us a little bit of stability, which I like,” he said. “And, I know the players like to see that.” Craig Boyce will once again be Turpin’s top assistant. This is Boyce’s eighth year with the program. In addition, Abby Baylor is starting her third year and is the junior varsity coach; Lyndsay Vance is starting her second year and mainly works with the goalkeepers, but is active in all aspects of the team; and Elena Hitch is a second-year assistant, who works with the junior varsity and is a teacher at the high school. As for the top competition this year, in the district, “I think its Franklin County,” said Turpin. “They’ve historically, over the last two or three years, fielded some pretty good teams. They’ve got a pretty talented player in Quinn May (midfielder), who’s always good on the ball, and she’s a finisher. I think they lost a couple key defenders from last season, so I’m interested to see how they make up for that.” In the region, Turpin said, “It’s pretty much the same group. Lexington Catholic is still loaded with talent. It seems that year after year they just reload. ... Then Tates Creek has picked up a couple of offensive players that should make things a little interesting in the region. Then, Dunbar, our first game; they have quite a big student-body to pull from, so they’re usually a good team.” So, what should fans expect to see when they come out to watch the Lady Jackets this season? “I’m hoping they see a lot of possession,” said Turpin. “We’re starting to get there. I’m hoping to be able to get a bit more exciting offensively, and that brings us more fans. It’s been that way so far (in preseason). We’ll see what happens.” Update: In its first game of the new season, the Lady Jackets defeated Dunbar at Lafayette 1-0 on penalty kicks in the first round of the Fayette County Spectacular. The two teams remained in a scoreless tie through regulation play and two overtime periods, which sent the game to penalty kicks. For Woodford, Pictor, Burdine and Rankin made their penalty kicks. Meanwhile, Graf was excellent in goal. After Dunbar made one penalty kick and missed another, Graf made saves on their next two penalty kicks to give Woodford the win.

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