As Chris Curtin prepares to begin his seventh year as the Anderson County High School girls soccer coach, he has some lofty expectations for his team.
“I would like to see us make a run toward the state tournament again,” said Curtin, who saw the Lady Mavericks eliminated in the sectional round of the state playoffs by Signal Mountain.
Anderson County, which finished 13-5-3 in 2021, saw its season come to an end via the penalty kicks shootout. The match was technically a draw.
But don’t tell the Lady Mavericks or their coach that.
“We played 80 minutes of regulation and then we played two overtime periods and then we went to penalty kicks,” Curtin said. “That goal (in the shootout) was the goal that kept us from going to state, so I’m counting (the match) as a loss.”
Anderson County’s regular season begins in just over two weeks as the Lady Mavericks host Cumberland County on Aug. 18. The Lady Mavericks have a talented crop of battle-tested veterans back. But they also have some newcomers looking to make an impact this season.
“I’m excited to see our girls come back,” Curtin said. “I’m always happy to see our girls come back.”
While the Lady Mavericks are experienced, there is a lack of depth, and the coach sees that as a mixed blessing.
“I don’t have a freshman or JV team and it’s probably good that I don’t have a ton of numbers because our freshmen come in and practice against our juniors and seniors right away and they become a family right away,” Curtin said. “But I can’t schedule a JV/varsity scrimmage in practice.
“I’ll have to wait until we play somebody else to play 11-on-11. The last seven years, we’ve had four teams that have been reloading teams and not rebuilding teams. With each team that I’ve coached, I feel pretty strongly about where we are going into the season and I feel really strongly about how I think we’ll compete.”
Top returners include: Caroline Spurling (a senior defender and team captain); Victoria Laster (senior, midfielder); Delaney Wade (junior, midfielder); Emily Martin (a sophomore who will transition to playing goalkeeper after being a field player in 2021); Emma Leander (sophomore, forward); Zoey Rose (sophomore, forward) and Elizabeth Troyna (junior, midfielder).
Curtin said that he’s excited to see what the 2022 Lady Mavericks can accomplish on the pitch.
“(Troyna) is coming back with a different energy and I’m excited to see how she’ll play,” he said. “I’m happy with the way that my sophomores have stepped up.
“And we have a freshman class that’s about six players deep, and I expect that we’ll see significant contributions from several of those girls.”
The Lady Mavericks will play a tough schedule, but Curtin said that all of his matches could be winnable, adding that there’s no sure victory on the team’s slate of games.
“On our schedule, every game is a winnable game, but there’s not that sure game,” he said. “We will have a challenging schedule. It’s a tough schedule and it will stretch us.
“It will stretch us to the point that we’re going to have to be better than we are today.”