By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
NORTH LAUREL — After a seven-win season in 2012, the North Laurel Lady Jaguars soccer team is hoping to make a jump in the win column this year.
Head coach Becky Woodworth said her team has been working hard since the team began its preseason workouts and though they’re not at full strength on the practice field yet, she said she expects bigger and better things from this year’s squad.
“We’re really happy to get back to work and see what we have to work with,” Woodworth said. “It’s hard in the summertime though, because kids are still on vacation and they have jobs and stuff that they are obligated to.
“But we’ve been working hard in our conditioning for a while now and we’re getting in shape,” she added. “We’re going to play in the Bluegrass State Games this weekend, so we’ll have a few games to see what we’re working with and try to get a good idea of what we’ve got.”
The Lady Jaguars’ seven wins were scattered about last season, having won consecutive matches on just one occasion late in the season. Wins over Whitley County and Somerset, followed by a tie against Danville, were expected to carry North Laurel into the postseason with a bit of momentum. That wasn’t the case though as Woodworth’s squad fell in the first round.
Despite the early exit from postseason play, Woodworth said she feels like experience of the season overall will be an advantage to her team this year.
As things get started this season, Woodworth said she’ll be looking to find out just how much last season helped her team as well as how hungry they seem coming in to the early part of preseason workouts.
“We think the girls will be improved just having played last year, plus we have some younger girls moving up this season that we expect to make an impact as well,” Woodworth said. “We’ll look at things early on and try to focus on some of the important aspects of the preseason. Things like their focus, whether they’re in shape and stuff like that.
“Hopefully the girls that aren’t in as good a shape as we would like will come in here and work hard from the start to try and get to that point,” she added. “We really look at how hard they work in the early stages as a way to measure how much they really want to be here as a team.”
With a balanced squad this year as far as grade level, Woodworth said she should have a good mix of experience and ability at her disposal. She did boast about North Laurel underclassmen and said she expected good things out of the group as a whole.
“We have some younger kids coming in this year that have played a lot of soccer over the past few years,” Woodworth said. “Any time you have kids that have been around the game as long as these young girls have, it can only make your team better.
“We’re excited about the season as a whole and we’re hoping for good things this year,” she added. “Hopefully our experienced girls can gel with the younger kids and make for a good team.”