By Grant Abston, Sports Editor
Last fall, the Wildcat soccer team finished 9-8-2 and earned its first trip to the Lone Star Conference postseason tournament. Expectations may be even higher next season, as the Wildcats signed seven players, six high school students and one junior college transfer, to help improve the second-year program.
The Wildcats finished 8-11-1 in their first season in 2007 and posted their first winning season in 2008. The Wildcats will return four all-Conference players: goalkeeper Crissy Lawson (LSC Goalkeeper of the Year and first-team selection), midfielder Jordan Reese, midfielder Courtney Wilson and defender Anastasia Nelson (all honorable mention selections). Along with these players, ACU will return some key position players, and Wilson said he thinks the new additions will add an offensive threat to an already strong defensive team.
“One thing we’re looking to bring in with this class is more offensive threat, and I feel like the new class has it,” Wilson said. “We have an established defense with the returners, and we’re excited with the freshmen; they all have soccer experience, and I expect them to get right into the mix.”
Junior college transfer Ashley Holton will join the team from Cuyamaca College in Santee, Calif. Holton, a two-time Pacific Coast Conference Player of the Year, scored 40 goals and recorded 30 assists in two seasons and also was named to the 2008 NSCAA/Adidas Junior College Division III Women All-West Region Team.
“I know that Ashley went to a Christian high school in southern California, and ACU and seemed like a good fit for her,” Wilson said. “She’s proven herself over the last two years at the college level and can get the job done.”
Highlighting the list of high school players will be Julie Coppedge from Amarillo. Coppedge, the District 2-5A MVP her junior year, has the ability to play different positions and will have the opportunity to come in and compete right away. Joining Coppedge will be Arielle Moncure from Leawood, Kan., Katherine Garner from Arlington, Lexi Stirling from Littleton, Colo., Jennifer Hill from Amarillo and Krysta Grimm from Colorado Springs, Colo.
Moncure and Hill will provide depth to the Wildcat defense, as Moncure likely will likely be backup to goalkeeper to Lawson, and Hill will join the defense after playing for Canyon Randall High School. Midfielder Garner, midfielder Stirling and midfielder Grimm will look to give the offense a boost next season. Grimm recorded 50 goals and 11 assists during her sophomore and junior seasons at Pikes Peak High School, and Stirling helped lead Heritage High School to a 33-5-1 record in her two seasons on varsity.
“I think the last two seasons we’ve progressed, and we are feeling pretty optimistic about our chances next year,” Wilson said.
The Wildcats lost just two seniors from last season’s team and will look to continue their improvement in the Lone Star Conference, aiming for a conference championship.
“I think we have the personnel and talent to compete for a conference championship, and hopefully the girls on team will realize that’s possible and can make that happen,” Wilson said. “Without a doubt, we should have just as much talent as anyone else in our conference and region.”