Without an experienced defensive presence, the Ada Lady Cougars are working to shore up those holes as they prepare for the 2018 spring soccer season.
Ada, 8-7 a year ago, lost its entire backline off a team which returns seven starters.
“We lost our backline, but we’re not completely new. We have moved some kids around,” said Ada head coach Cole Jones, who plans to employ a 4-1-4-1 set.
Three of the four defensive spots appear to be set with junior Andrea Underwood, senior Brianna Iorga and sophomore Angelina Hernandez.
Underwood spent most of the 2017 season as a central defender, but she played on the outside toward the end of the season.
“She is learning a new position, and she’s held it down pretty good,” Jones said. “Andrea is not a speed demon, but she’s pretty good with her feet.”
Iorga will serve as the leader of the center defensive unit.
“Breanna is really smart and has a decent foot. She will clear the ball really well,” said Jones.
Hernandez is expected to occupy the other central defensive slot.
“She is athletic and has a little speed to her,” Jones said.
The other outside fullback spot is a battle between seniors Callista Vandegriff and Kendal Nickerson.
The goalkeeping duties will be handled by either junior Maddison Wilson or senior Mikayla Emarthle, who is still involved in basketball.
The midfield area should be Ada’s strength, according to Jones.
Playing the holding midfielder spot is sophomore Kyla Mitchell.
“Kyla has very good eyes and a great touch. She will be able to spread the field for us,” said Jones.
The central midfield spots are expected to be filled by seniors Mackenzie Bratton and Sadie Criswell.
“Mackenzie played a lot (at center fielder) last year. She’s a hustler and someone you can trust. She is calm and solid,” Jones said. “Sadie has a great shot, is a hustler and is very strong. She’s an aggressive and a tough girl.”
Sophomore Colee Rogers and junior Amanda Shoreman will play the outside midfield positions, with Rogers on the left side and Shoreman on the right.
“Colee is a left-footed girl. She has a pretty good leg and should hold down the left side … very athletic,” said Jones. “Amanda started on the outside midfield last year. She’s fast and has a strong foot. We’ll use her to send balls in.”
Senior Jalee Mitchell, who started every game on the defensive end a year ago, will play the forward spot.
“She’s the fastest on the team … very quick and has a heck of a shot,” Jones said.
Two other players expected to figure heavily into the starting lineup, or at least see much playing time, are junior Dixie Redman and freshman Landyn Owens, who are both coming out from basketball.
The Lady Cougars are set to officially open the season March 1 at Atoka. Ada’s district opponents include Madill, Ardmore, Harrah, Bridge Creek, Millwood, Community Christian and Dove Science Academy.
“The talent is there. We’ve just got to keep getting better every day,” Jones said. “We’ve got a great group of kids who work their tails off. They’re always respectful and great in the classroom.”
The Lady Cougar assistant coaches are Josh Vaughn and Rumor LeJeune.
The Ada girls travel to Ardmore for the first scrimmage of the season today. The Lady Cougars will then scrimmage Tuesday at Atoka and next Saturday at Weatherford.
The regular season begins March 1 at Atoka. Ada’s first home match is March 2 against Noble.