CONYERS - Eight.
That is the number of returning players on the Salem girls soccer squad who were selected to the Citizen's 2008 All-Area Team.
Furthermore, that includes Offensive Player of the Years Jordan Young (forward) and Taylor Gates (midfielder/forward), who combined for 47 goals and 23 assists one year ago.
"The number and skill of all the returning players is a huge asset. We have a great core of players," Salem first-year coach Heather Cheek said. "The girls need to get used to playing with each other again and also to the different styles of play from our new players."
Cheek inherits a program loaded with talent from top to bottom. Last year the Lady Seminoles were 16-3-1 overall. They won their third consecutive Area 8-AAAA title and reached the Class AAAA semifinals before losing 1-0 to the eventual state champion Marist in the state playoffs.
"I have very high expectations of the girls as they are all excellent players," Cheek said. "The girls and I hope to improve our record from last season."
Returning to the field are seniors Brittany Beaumont (midfielder), Shelby Boggus, Casey Echols, Shallon Hobbs and Young; juniors Emily Boggus (defender), Gates, Ashley Miller (midfielder), Ashley Parker and Brittany Whitson (defender).
"These girls are excellent players and have a lot of experience. Most have been members of the varsity team since they were freshmen," Cheek said.
Last year, Young racked up 23 goals and eight assists. Beaumont finished with seven goals and 12 assists.
Gates recorded a team-high in both goals (24) and assists (15). Miller registered seven goals and
Defensively, Whitson helped limit opponents to just 13 goals in 20 games played.
Adding to the experienced group of veterans is senior Sidni Thompson, junior Jillian Haughey, sophomore Karson Thompson and freshmen Karlie McCallum, Courtney Hodges, Alayna Smith and Mariel Smith.
Jason Murdock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: At A Glance
· Team: Salem girls soccer
· Coach: Heather Cheek (first year)
· Last year's record: 16-3-1, lost to Marist 1-0 in Class AAAA semifinals
· First game: Monday at Eagle's Landing Christian Academy, 7 p.m.