Prep Girls' Soccer Preview
TEAMS TO WATCH
1. Notre Dame: The Lady Irish joined CCS in the 2016 Class A/AA state tournament, where they ran into the eventual state champs in the first round for the second year in a row. Before that, they were state finalists in 2014.
2. McMinn County: McMinn got to the AAA state tournament last year, but its biggest offensive threat from that team is now playing for Presbyterian College. Morgan Hutchison’s production will be tough to replace.
3. Baylor: The Lady Red Raiders are two years removed from an appearance in the state final, and after a quarterfinal exit last year, they will have all-state forward Lainee Bohannon back from injury.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
1. Lainee Bohannon, Baylor: She missed the final third of last season because of an injury but still earned Best of Preps and all-state selections. Can she lead the Lady Red Raiders back to the title game?
2. Lane Lawrence, GPS: Lawrence is another area forward who earned all-state honors as a sophomore. With two strong seniors having graduated, Lawrence will be asked to help lead the Bruisers.
3. Julie Kaset, East Hamilton: Kaset also battled injury last year but hopes to have a healthy senior campaign. Lady Hurricanes coach Carrie Hill has high praise for the Lee University commitment.
Replacing departed seniors in the starting lineup can be a tall task, but for the girls' soccer team at Chattanooga Christian School, it's just another part of the process.
What's the secret for a program with a rich history of producing quality teams?
"I would like to bottle it," Lady Chargers coach Cal Sneller said. "I have no idea, but I love it.
"It takes a little while to figure out who is going to fill in those roles, but they have to desire to fill them. Even the ones that are returning as starters are in a little bit different spots. They have to pick it up because they're now looked on as the possible leaders, and they've done a very, very good job."
Among those leaders going into the 2017 season is junior Addie Henry. She understands what it takes to step in where needed, because the offensive-minded midfielder was asked to take on more of a defensive role last season.
"We know we can do it because we've done it the past couple of years — even when we lose vital roles with seniors — so everyone has stepped up for sure," Henry said. "I think we can do it again. People just have to gain confidence and step up, and they've done that. We've done well so far."
Sneller said that selflessness has been contagious and has given his team flexibility in the different looks it can present. It's an attitude that has trickled from the top down and centers around continually working to make the team better as a whole.
"We have seniors that have desire, seniors that are helping with everything," Sneller said. "Usually they're the last ones to leave, and they don't make the freshmen clean up after practice. It's the seniors doing that, and it builds that mindset of, 'I have to do more work for us to get better.'
"It's a desire to constantly get better. They're not content. They can play well, they win games, scrimmages, but the other team's scoring, so they get upset. That's encouraging, because they want to constantly get better and better and better."
It certainly helps that the Lady Chargers get along, a sentiment Sneller and senior forward Olivia Hoffman share.
"I've created a really good bond with all these girls over the past three years," Hoffman said. "I love the fact that we all get to come here and have fun but also be competitive. We really enjoy each other's company but while playing well at the same time."
An all-state selection last year, Hoffman led the scoring with 22 goals and 15 assists. As she and Henry help facilitate the on-field transition, both know what it takes after having older siblings shine in the program.
Sneller said he's eager to see the Lady Chargers' attitude translate to success as they look to follow up a Class A/AA state semifinal appearance in 2016.
"They have lofty goals," he said, "but they're good ones."
Contact Idris Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org.