Colonials chasing breakthrough
By DAVID BREIDENBACH, Correspondent
Mar 22, 2013, 14:21
COLONIAL HEIGHTS – After watching his team’s season-opening win against Powhatan, Colonial Heights High School girls soccer coach Mark Lee is guardedly optimistic about the squad’s chances in the Central District this year.
The Colonials scored seven goals and shut out the Indians in a game that Lee thought would have been closer. Caitlyn Cook and Mia Heydet each netted a pair of goals, and the work between the midfield and the front line may be the strongest part of the team, Lee said.
“We are strong at midfield and up front,” Lee said. “Mia and Jordan Caison on top, and Cook at midfield give us speed and skill.”
Colonial Heights midfielder Caitlyn Cook dribbles upfield during a Central District game at Hopewell last season (photo by David Breidenbach).
Also filling in the midfield are Erin Page, Miranda Hubert and Ashley Rush. While size may be a problem for the midfielders, Lee said they make up for that shortcoming with speed, athleticism and experience.
As has been the case for the past few years, Lee does not foresee a problem getting into the district tournament. Getting past the first round, however, has proven to be a more daunting task for the Colonials.
This year, he said, will be no different. So far, Prince George and Thomas Dale appear to have a stop on the rest of the district and will likely earn the top two seeds.
Lee said Prince George in particular is a team to be reckoned with, especially if the Royals’ duo of Dallas Smith and Jo-Jo Taylor continue to play well.
The Colonials’ strength appears to be their first 11 players. But even so, the team’s defenders will need time to climb a small learning curve as they learn new positions.
“What’s going to make a difference for us is how fast our defense learns to play the game,” Lee said. “We have good athletes, but they are not very experienced. They do good things but sometimes get caught in situations where they are outside of their experience.
“When we get past that, we'll play good defense.”
Defensively, the Colonials start a senior, two sophomores and a freshman. Outside back Caitlyn Whitt is the lone upperclassman, and she is joined by Madison Hoggood at fullback, Bailey Rivero at sweeper and Alexis Page at stopper.
Alli Pryor has shown some skill at goalkeeper, according to Lee.
While changes to the defensive set are one area of concern for the Colonials, overcoming losses from last year’s team are another. The most influential of those bygone assets is the speed that graduated with Abigail Rigby.
Speed is important in the game, and especially up front where Rigby played. But Lee said he was pleased with the turnout among younger players this season and that overall they may be stronger than in the past.
“We had some other experienced players, but we’ve picked up a couple other players who have done really well this year,” Lee said. “I have a solid [starting] 11, but the people I have coming in off the bench aren’t very strong. Once we start subbing we are in trouble.”
Another obstacle that Lee said will affect the Colonials’ outlook is the absence of a travel soccer program in the area. In the past, the team was built around those key players who started playing soccer at a young age and went on to play in the more competitive leagues.
Those players – like Stephanie Colb and Caitlyn Wells – are harder to find now because the Colonial Heights Soccer Association isn’t supporting travel soccer as it had in the past. That affects the Colonials because instead of fielding experienced players, now the team is seeing good athletes with little to no high-level experience.
“The well is not too deep after this year,” Lee said. “We are bringing up good athletes, but not having a travel league in Colonial Heights is really going to hurt us. They really need to be playing at seven, eight, nine and 10 years old.”