Alcovy soccer teams look for good things in second years

Alcovy boys chasing trip to state playoffs in second soccer season

COVINGTON - In just its second season of existence, the Alcovy boys soccer team has set some pretty lofty goals.

The Tigers are looking for a trip to the region tournament this year and hope to secure a trip to the state playoffs.

While Alcovy knows it's not going to be an easy feat, especially after going 0-5 in 8-AAAA South and 1-12-1 overall last season, coach Michael Ebel believes in his team.

"We want to make the area crossover game; we want to make it to the state playoffs," he said. "Realistically, if our goaltending is what we think it can be, we have a shot," Ebel said. "I never thought we would (compete for a playoff spot) in year two. But if we can build on what we had last year with our competitiveness and get some goalkeeping, we're going to be tough to beat, I really believe that."

Last season, Alcovy gave up 45 goals, a number it hopes to cut down as two players battle for the keeper position. The two candidates for the job are last season's goalkeeper, Cody Stargell, and football player Matt Gunnells.

While Stargell has the experience, Gunnells, who has never played soccer before, has the intensity and athletic ability.

"What he lacks in soccer ability, he more than makes up for in competitiveness and athletic ability," Ebel said. "The first thing Matt Gunnells asked me was, 'If I hit him, will I get a penalty?' I said no and he had a huge smile on his face. That aggressiveness rubs off. Last year we were a little timid. If he turns out to be what we think he could be, it will be a special year for us."

Mark Howard, David Maturino and Tim Walsh will also be key components of the Alcovy defense.

"Mark did an outstanding job for us last year, and David was always in the right place at the right time. We moved Tim Walsh back as a stopper," Ebel said. "Hopefully, his experience and knowledge of the game will be a big help back there."

The Tigers are looking to get their offense from Jeremy Woodruff, Nick Waggoner, Kyle Voytesak and Ryan Ledford.

"(Ledford) always seems to be in the right spot on the practice field," Ebel said. "We put him up top in a scrimmage and he scored two goals in five minutes. He is an athlete, and we're expecting good things from him.

"We also moved Kyle Voytesak from the back to the front. He has so much potential that he can be scary good."

Of the 12 games the Tigers lost in their inaugural season, five were decided by one goal and five others were decided by two goals. Their largest margin of defeat was 6-1 to Rockdale.

Ebel is hoping that his team can take what it learned and turn some of those losses into victories this year.

"You've heard the saying, 'You've got to learn to win,'" Ebel said. "Hopefully, we know how to win now. I think they see what it takes to get it done. We were so close, a bounce here, a bounce there and who knows how we end up. So far this year, they're hungry and ready to get after it."

Lady Tigers hope lineup changes, added experience pay big dividends in year two

COVINGTON - With a year of experience under its belt, the Alcovy girls soccer team is ready to shake things up in its second season.

"More than half my girls had never kicked a soccer ball before the first day of tryouts last year," said Alcovy coach Chris Edgar. "It took us a while to understand the fundamentals. They kept a good attitude, tried real hard and they got better. They went to camp in the summer because they wanted to get better.

"Our area is going to be extremely tough. Some of the teams graduated quite a bit of their players. I'm hoping that we'll give a better showing. I'm not saying that we're going to beat them, but I'd like it to be competitive."

Last season, the Lady Tigers scored nine goals while allowing 85 as they went 2-12 overall and 0-5 in 8-AAAA South.

This season, Edgar has moved some people around in his lineup, which he hopes will change Alcovy's fortunes.

Two big changes are moving Kailyn Maynard to goalkeeper and moving last year's keeper, Karissa Rutledge, to the field.

"(Maynard) went to camp, had a good camp and has been working in the offseason preparing to be goalkeeper," Edgar said. "Last year, we didn't have anybody else, so (Rutledge) said she would play goalie. The thing about having Karissa in the field is that she's unselfish and she passes the ball. She's a captain, just like she was last year, but she's the type of girl that whatever the need of the team, it comes first. I'm excited about having her back in the field."

Other key players on defense and in the midfield are Jessica Cromwell, Katie Maughon and Amy Boldin. Cromwell and Maughon are coming back for their second season, while Boldin, a freshman, is new to the team. Maughon is Alcovy's only senior.

Even though Boldin has never played at the high school level, Edgar said that she is more than ready.

"(Boldin) has been shutting down girls in practice," Edgar said. "She's aggressive, she's physical. To teach some of these girls that have never played before the physicality of the game was hard. In our offseason workouts, she's been putting shoulders to the girls and things like that. It's been a big help."

Some of the other changes include switching Ashley Mederos and Chelsea Richardson to offense.

"Ashley Mederos started on defense last year and she's got one of the best legs on the team, so I'm moving her up toward the attacking end of the field," Edgar said. "I'm also moving Chelsea Richardson, who played midfield for us last year and was our second leading scorer with four goals, up to a forward position where she'll get more opportunities."

Some of the goals for the Lady Tigers include a top-four finish in 8-AAAA South and a berth in the region tournament.

"I think we can win a couple of those area games and get to that tournament where it matters. If you get there, anything can happen," Edgar said. "Defensively, we don't want to give up as many goals while being an offensive threat against opponents.

"They're starting to understand the game. It's a slow process and we're still young; I still have a tremendous amount of young talent that is still developing. I'd like for us to be a .500 soccer team. Anything beyond that would be great."

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: At a glance

Team: Alcovy boys soccer

Coach: Michael Ebel (second season)

Last year: 1-12-1 overall, 0-5 in 8-AAAA South

First game: Tuesday vs. Madison County, 7:30 p.m.

Team: Alcovy girls soccer

Coach: Chris Edgar (second season)

Last year: 2-12 overall, 0-5- in 8-AAAA South

First home game: Tuesday vs. Madison County at 5:30 p.m.