Lofty ambitions for South soccer

PARKERSBURG -Regardless of the personnel, Parkersburg South’s owns lofty ambitions when it comes to girls soccer.

Last year, the Patriots advanced to the Class AAA, Region I final before losing 1-0 to Morgantown. A total of 11 seniors graduated from that South squad, but third-year coach Ron Bucholtz doesn’t see any reason why his ballclub can’t advance deep into the postseason once again and possibly secure a state berth.

“We still have plenty of returning experienced players coming back,” Bucholtz said. “Some new talent came in, and even though our numbers are a little lower we still have the talent.

“There’s just not a lot of depth as far as substitutes.”

All four seniors on the roster figure to contribute prominently, including co-captains Taylor Life and Zoe Merrill. Rounding out the senior class are Allie Miller and Kenna Richards.

The five juniors who have made the varsity cut include Sidney Hofman, Shyla Stump, Allie Jones, Sabrina Schultz and Emily Cogar. The lone sophomore among the starting rotation is Cassie Whitlatch.

Bucholtz welcomes three freshmen in Aiyanna Lauderman, Holly Haught and Sophia Miller.

The South coaching staff includes assistants Tim Offutt and Jamie Whitlatch.

“With the way our numbers are this year, every player on the varsity roster will have to be a key figure and play a big role for us,” Bucholtz said. “There are a few girls who stand out, but we’ll have to be focused on having a total team effort.

“We can’t afford to run and chase the ball because we will get worn out. We have to play a smarter game of soccer and control the tempo of the game for us to be competitive.”

Bucholtz was especially impressed with how his troops responded in a scrimmage last Saturday against Cambridge. South also turned in a solid effort in a second scrimmage match against Riverside.

“The girls played extremely well against Cambridge and looked very good doing it, which bodes well for the future,” Bucholtz said.

“We’ll have to do things quicker against the stronger teams who will put more pressure on us, but Saturday some of the play was brilliant.”

South’s 3-2 victory last year at Erickson All-Sports Facility marked the first sectional title for the program since 2008. The Patriots closed out the campaign at 14-7-2.

“I still have high expectations because we still have a lot of talented players on the team,” Bucholtz said. “I have players on the varsity roster that anybody in the state would be more than glad to have on their roster.”

South opens the regular season Saturday at Steubenville Central Catholic then runs into the strength of its schedule with consecutive matches against University, Parkersburg and Morgantown.

“We’ll find out a lot more about us in those matches,” Bucholtz said.