The North Division Champion and MACJC/Region XXIII runners-up Holmes Community College Lady Bulldog soccer team has reported to the Ridgeland Campus for summer workouts and summer school, according to Associate Head Coach Wesley Noble.
The Lady Bulldogs, who finished 14-2 overall and 7-1 in the North, return 11 players from the best team in program history which includes six starters. The team also is bringing in 17 talented freshmen to round out a solid roster for 2017.
Noble said the month of July will be used for fitness, technical work and positional topics as well as getting acclimated to their college classes. Training will begin on June 30th.
Preseason workouts will begin on Aug. 7 with two-a-days and will include more fitness training along with tactical and game situations.
"We took a major step forward last year," Noble said. "We took our program to new heights. We are excited about the challenge for this year and we hope to achieve our new standard."
He said the Lady Bulldogs had a great spring. "We were in the gym a lot and on the field a lot," Noble said. "The girls had a really good energy about them. They are very hungry for what we didn't get last year, and they want to keep going. We had a really good meeting when they all came in for Freshman Friday, and we talked about our team goals."
Returning this year will be the all-time leading goal scorer in program history Kendal Walsh from East Rankin Academy and assist leader Brooke Burrell of Madison Central High School. Walsh had 17 goals and three assists while Burrell had six goals and eight assists. Burrell was named All-State while Walsh was named All-Region. Both of these players came into their freshmen season having not played in a game in 20 months, but the results were amazing.
"Brooke is a natural athlete, who is very fit at all times," Noble said. "She came in and did well right off the bat. She didn't play her senior year of high school. With her stepping in like that was massive for us. She is a very unselfish player that gets everyone involved and she pushes everyone around her to be better."
"Kendal missed preseason with a hamstring injury and just wasn't fit," he said. "As the season went on, she got better and better and ended up breaking the scoring record even after missing several games. She's very fit right now. I expect her to have a good preseason, get comfortable on the ball and expect her to do the same thing if not more."
"I am also expecting big things from the rest of our sophomore class. Britain Welzien, Irene Mondragon, and Franny Green all played massive amounts of minutes for us last year. We expect all of our returners to step up and lead by example."
As for the newcomers, Noble feels the team is the strongest that he's seen at Holmes. "It helps when you have a good season like that," Noble said. "We have girls who want to come here and compete."
"What we are most excited about is the character of these players we are bringing in," he said. "We are excited about how they represent themselves and how they will represent us. We are evenly spread out in all positions. We are bringing in two really good goalkeepers, several defenders, several midfielders and several who can put the ball in the back of the net. We are expecting several to have an immediate impact when they step on campus."
Noble said the competition will be good between the returners and the freshmen. "It helps the sophomores to not be complacent because they know somebody is chasing them at all times," he said. "That's going to help us during practice. Every time we step on the field we have enough players to have a competitive 11 v 11 game. It's like I always tell the girls is that whoever starts is who is performing well at that time. It just helps everybody push through the entire year. It's good for us to have that and the girls know they are pushing each other."
He said the goals are to continue to improve, excel in the classroom, send players to four-year schools, win the North Division and host, and play well in the MACJC State Tournament.
"We are hoping to compete for the North once again and if we win the North, it will allow us to host state," Noble said. "It will be fun for us and good experience for the girls. When you make it to the state final, you are always hoping to get back to that stage and hopefully get a different result. We think we have the team to do it, and we are going to go in and work our hardest. The league is getting stronger and stronger every year. The competition level is at an all-time high. Every game will be great competition and we look forward to the challenge."