‘Youth movement’ is on for the Lady Wildcat soccer team

The youth movement is in full force for the Oak Ridge High School girls soccer team.

“We had a young team last year and we got younger,” said Lady Wildcats Coach Donnie Green.

“I have to replace eight starters from last year. “I have 14 freshmen, and the freshmen will be our strength.

“They’re high quality players. At a scrimmage (on Tuesday, Aug. 9) against (Knoxville) Catholic, we started five freshmen. I have 20 underclassmen in my 34 players.”

Oak Ridge, which opened its 2022 campaign on the road against Webb School of Knoxville on Aug. 16 (results were not available at press time), finished third in District 3-AAA in 2021.

The Lady Wildcats, who went 5-8-2 overall and posted a 3-2 district record, will open district play Thursday in Knoxville as they tangle with district runner-up West High at Bill Wilson Field.

Oak Ridge played the Lady Rebels twice last season and was shut out in both games.

“West is loaded,” Green said. “We all know how good they are.

“In past years, it was a two-horse race between us and Powell. But when (the TSSAA re-aligned), they threw West in the mix. Our district is tough and the region is even tougher.”

Region 2-AAA is composed of District 3 and District 4-AAA, which features defending state champion Bearden (which finished the 2021 campaign as the top-ranked team in the nation), Farragut, Hardin Valley Academy and Maryville.

“Region 2-AAA is the toughest region in the state,” Green said.

Top returners for the Lady Wildcats include Aniya Fisher (junior, forward/defender); Olivia Paul (junior, defender); Alia DeMint (senior, defender); Victoria Moua (a junior defender who is injured and looks to return in between three to five weeks). Edie Weston (sophomore, midfielder); Brooklyn Henderson (junior, forward) and Grace Phillips (a junior and two-year starter at goalkeeper).

Oak Ridge will be without the services of sophomore forward Ella Bunch, who suffered a torn ACL during her club season.

“We’ll be without Ella and that will hurt us because she’s the fastest girl on our team,” said Green, who is in his second season as the Lady Wildcats’ head coach. He’s been in the program for five seasons.

Key newcomers include Hayven Laurendine (freshman, midfielder); Lilah Kim (freshman, forward/midfielder/defender); Noel Norstedt (freshman, forward/defender); Abbey Pressley (freshman, defender); Elena Vogt (freshman, midfielder/defender); Rose Pelletier (freshman, midfielder) and Delanie Cutler (freshman, defender).