WILLIAMSBURG — Continual improvement has been the theme of Kelly Sawyers' tenure as the coach of the Whitley County girl’s soccer team. In her seventh year as leader of the program, Sawyers' Lady Colonels turned in one of their best seasons in program history.
Whitley County opened with six straight victories while winning eight of their first 10 games. By season’s end, they finished with a 12-3 regular-season record before losing in the semifinals of the 49th District Tournament to Corbin.
Sawyers said that even though the Lady Colonels' season didn't end the way they wanted, she was proud of what her squad accomplished, while their long-term goal is still to win that first district tournament championship trophy.
“We had a successful season, placing third in our district. This is the best we have ever placed in our district tournament,” said Sawyers. “North Laurel and Corbin always have great teams, but every year we make it a closer game than the year before. We look to make it to the final round next year, and have hopes of winning our first district tournament.”
The Lady Colonels had just one senior on the roster in Madison Vanover. Sawyers said that Vanover was a key player to their success this season and it will be difficult to replace what she brought to the team, not just as a player, but as a person. Statistically speaking, Vanover finished the year with five goals and four assists.
“Although we only had one senior in Madison Vanover, she will be greatly missed,” said Sawyers. “Her leadership on and off the field was a big part of our team’s success.”
Returning for Whitley County will be a core of players that will raise expectations for the Lady Colonels when they take the field in 2020. Sawyers will return an incredible group of 10 seniors next season, in what will be her most experienced team to date. Led by leading scorer Reis Anderson, the Lady Colonels will be expected to compete for both the district and region championships.
Anderson highlights a group of juniors that led the way in 2019, as she finished the season as one of the top scorers in the state. When Anderson wasn’t scoring one of her 49 goals, she was assisting on 23 others. Fellow junior Whitney Owens was the second-leading scorer with 17 goals, while a pair of sophomores in Chelsey Logan and Kaylee Aslinger finished the year with 13 and 11 goals, respectively.
The Lady Colonels will also return their goalkeeper from a year ago in Madison Patterson, who had 191 saves on the season and led the defense to five shutouts in just 16 games. Sawyers said her returning group of players will give her a solid roster from top to bottom next season.
“This is our year as we will be returning 10 athletes heading into their season year, including our goalkeeper. They are a strong and talented group that has played together for many years,” said Sawyers. “(By) pairing those girls with some key sophomores that will be coming back for their junior year, we will have a solid lineup and first string of subs.”