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Motlow begins Second Soccer Season with Mixture of Experience and Talented Newcomers

Aug. 8, 2018

With a full season of college soccer experience behind them, 12 returning sophomores will lead the Motlow State Community College Lady Bucks when they begin the 2018 regular season with a trip to Senatobia, Miss., to face Northwest Mississippi Aug. 24.

Last season, the inaugural women's soccer campaign at Motlow, Head Coach Andy Lyon and his young squad, which featured only two sophomores, posted an 8-7-1 record, including winning five of their final six contests. Motlow shut out its final three opponents by a combined 16-0 score, and beat the only other Tennessee community college to field a team, Southwest Tennessee, 4-0 and 7-0.

With the new season comes new challenges. Two other Tennessee community colleges, Columbia State and Dyersburg State, have added women's soccer programs, bringing the total number of Tennessee Community College Athletic Association (TCCAA) teams to four.

Although four teams is one team short of the TCCAA required five to sanction women's soccer as an official conference sport, TCCAA teams will play each other in home-and-home series and the TCCAA will hold a conference tournament Oct. 26-27 in Memphis. The winner will represent Region VII, which is the TCCAA, in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Central District tournament Nov. 1-3.

With four Tennessee schools now fielding women's soccer teams, and others considering it next year, Lyon knows the challenges to recruit the best players in the state are growing.

"It is exciting to have an expansion of Tennessee community colleges playing women's soccer," said Lyon. "It does present greater competition in terms of recruiting, but it also gives soccer student-athletes in Tennessee more opportunities to play at the next level. The addition of Columbia State and Dyersburg State allows Motlow to have the opportunity to play teams not only closer to us geographically, but also schools that we have developed rivalries with in other sports. Now those rivalries will naturally transfer over into our sport as well."

Despite the abundance of returning sophomores, the Lady Bucks will have to replace their most efficient offensive player from last year, Anastasia Wellington. The Tullahoma native, and the first recruit signed by the new program, led the team with 11 goals, nine assists, 31 points and 34 shots on goal.

However, Lyon takes comfort in the fact that five of his top seven scorers return, five of his top six total assist leaders, and six of his top seven point producers are back for the 2018 season.

"The returning players know our expectations and know what it takes for us to have a successful season," continued Lyon. "We started out a little tentative and unsure of ourselves last year, but the players adapted quickly and finished the season strong."

Among the returning student-athletes, and the high schools where they played their prep soccer, are Emily Bryant, Smyrna; Kayla Moultry, Siegel; Paige Loveless, Stewarts Creek; Bailee Walls, Franklin County; Megan Blumhoefer, Smyrna; Keely Smith, Shelbyville; Kinsli Houck, Stewarts Creek; Bethany Porter, Warren County, Rebekah Duross, Murfreesboro Central Magnet; and the Feaster triplets - Hannah, Natalie and Tyler, from Franklin County.

Smith and Natalie Feaster were the only two Lady Bucks to start all 16 games last year. Tyler Feaster was second in total goals with eight and in points with 20. Loveless, Blumhoefer and Tyler Feaster each had four assists last year, and Bryant had 28 saves and picked up three wins as keeper.

With a full two-year cycle of recruiting resulting in the incoming class of freshmen, Lyon expects the newcomers to contribute immediately. He likes what he has seen so far after the squad opened official practice Aug. 1.

"We are very excited about the incoming freshmen class", added Lyon. "They bring pace, enthusiasm, and versatility to our squad. Now we have the capability of allowing players to flourish in multiple positions, and we are happy with the depth that we have added. Having half the team getting great experience last season will allow them to pass on the lessons learned to the incoming freshmen. We're excited to see just how far this team can go and we can’t wait for the regular season to start.”

The class of newcomers, and the high schools they attended, includes Alexandra Rouse, Oak Ridge; April Gillespie, Sparkman (AL); Emily Vallejo, McGavock; Nai Leng, John Overton; Olga Lopez, John Overton; Peyton Burgin, Hixson; Katherine Kimball, Home Life Academy; Ashley Woods, Coffee County; and Annie Kate Gibson, Walker Valley.

"So far the preseason has showed us that together, our newcomers and upperclassmen are gelling into a cohesive unit," added Lyon. "They enjoy the game and each other's company, and their enthusiasm is contagious. This will be a fun team to watch and we hope soccer fans throughout our service area will support this squad. They are eager to represent Motlow."

The first home game is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 7, when Motlow will host Columbia State at the soccer field behind the Raider Academy in Manchester. Kickoff is 6:30 p.m.

2018 Motlow Soccer Team
Seated, front row from left: Peyton Burgin, Kristin Heath, Ashley Woods, Annie Kate Gibson, Emily Bryant, Alexandra Rouse and Kayla Moultry. Second row from left: Olga Lopez, Megan Blumhoefer, Bailee Walls, Kinsli Houck, Natalie Feaster and Emily Vallejo. Third row from left: Paige Loveless, Tyler Feaster, Keely Smith, Rebekah Duross, Hannah Feaster, Katherine Kimball and Bethany Porter. Not pictured: April Gillespie and Nai Leng. Motlow staff photo.