According to Lady Bulldogs head coach Chandler Gray he has kept more players than usual this season.
“I normally try to keep about 16 girls on a team, but this year we will have 19,” Gray said. “Partly because we had so many young ladies who really hustled and played well and we also had eight sixth graders that I feel like have the potential to be three year players for us.”
Gray noted it is great to get a sixth grader and let her get playing time now so that when she gets older she is ready to take a lead position.
“Obviously in a middle school sport you rely heavily on your eighth graders to lead,” Gray said. “They are to show the younger ladies how you play soccer at this level, especially against schools like Darlington and Coosa, teams who have done well over the past few seasons.”
During try out drills, Gray noted that assistant coach Kelly Faires said the team looked better than the group of girls who were out last year.
Returning players this season are Aneliz Almonte, Samaria Bahena, Itzel Bautista, Dayra Campos, Tia Davis, Mariana Guzman, Laura Mendez, Madison Odom, Essy Zambrano, and Auzecena Pizano.
First year players are Alondra Ortiz, Sara Bahena, Maricelys Campos, Areli Cervantes, Esefany Cornejo, Kenzavia Neal, Jacqueline Nunez, Mariana Ortero, and Makenzy Youngblood.
“I am very happy to see 10 eighth graders back,” Gray said. “They are experienced, they know what to expect and they should provide the example for our younger girls. We also have eight sixth graders practicing in our program every day, so we will be in great shape in 2013 and 2014. The future looks good.”
Gray noted that after a few weeks of practice, they had some players move to new positions on the field.
“These girls all played last year and have shown that they have the confidence and skills to play forward or midfield or the tougheness to play defender or keeper,” Gray said. “I am very impressed with the work ethic of this group. They listen well, they take instruction, and they are willing to try things that may not be in their comfort zone.”
Gray stated that getting first year players acclimated to the idea of playing as a team is a big step.
“Playing as an organized group, rather than just in the yard with siblings and friends, is the toughest adjustment,” Gray said. “But the first year players have done very well.”
Meanwhile, Lynda Wiggins is coaching the Bulldogs this season.
Members of the Bulldogs are Ariel Alonso de la Sierra, Alex Carmona, Jesus Barrera, Ernesto Barrientos, Bolivar Cordero, Thurston Cubillo, Jonatan Gomez-Ramirez, Gilberto Hernandez, Rony Mendez, Diosvany Morillon, Ever Morillon, Jose Nunez, Alfredo Segura, Eduardo Segura, Jose Segura, Juan Sibrian, Jerry Ramos, Luis Reyes, Luis Torres and Francisco Trujillo.
According to Wiggins, the forwards and strikers this season will be Jose Segura, Sibrian, Ramos, Reyes, and Torres.
Playing midfield will be Barrera, Cubillo, Gomez-Ramirez, Hernandez, Mendez, Morillon, Nunez, Trujillo, Alfredo Segura, and Eduardo Segura.
Wiggins noted that playing defense would be de la Sierra, Carmona, Cordero, Barrientos, Hernandez, Morillon, Trujillo, and Eduardo Segura. De la Sierra and Cordero are the goalkeepers this year.
Managers are Jose Celis, Alonzo Cornejo, and Edgar Suazo.
Cedartown will open the season on March 23 against Model at Cedartown High School. On March 26, Cedartown will play at the Rome YMCA against Pepperell. Two days later, March 28, they will square off with Darlington at Cedartown High School.
After visiting Coosa on March 30, Cedartown will host Armuchee on April 9 at Cedartown Memorial Stadium. On April 13, Cedartown will visit Rockmart and then play in the Rome League Tournament April 18-20 at the Rome YMCA.