Salem girls' soccer season falls just short

Salem girl's soccer coach Heather Cheek isn't happy with the result of her team's 2009 season - the Seminoles lost 2-1 to Whitewater in the Class AAAA semifinals, a second consecutive one-goal loss in the season's final game - but she's certainly not going to call the year a disappointment.

"I think the girls did a really great job this season they really worked hard to get where we did," Cheek said. "It didn't end up falling our way at the end of the season, but that doesn't downgrade anything that they did earlier in the year."

That early play included an undefeated run through Region 8-AAAA and a 10-game win streak that culminated with playoff wins over Woodland, Northgate and Thomas County Central. Cheek thought she had the team to get to the championship game and possibly win the program's first state title, but against Whitewater it became a tale of two halves.

"In that game against Whitewater, we just stepped it up a little too late," Cheek said. "Sometimes during the season it took (the team) a little while to get going. In that game, we were kind of slow in the first half and the second half we stepped it up, the opportunities came up, (and) our defense did an awesome job; we just couldn't make it work on the other end of the field."

Cheek is already looking ahead to next season. Despite the departure of several seniors - most notably Clemson commitment Brittany Beaumont and Jordan Young (Georgia) - the performance in 2009 of a talented freshman crop has the Seminoles hoping for another state title run. Cheek points to the round of 16 win over Northgate in which rookies Karlie McCallum and Courtney Hodges scored the goals (Hodges assisted on McCallum's goal) as a great window into the future.

"(McCallum and Hodges) both really learned really quickly how to play," Cheek said. "They were good players to start with, but they were able to really step it up during the season and get used to playing with the older girls. We'll have a great team again next year. We will miss our seniors that are leaving (but) we have a couple of good prospects coming up and the freshmen on the team will be able to fill some big shoes of the seniors that left."

Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at kurt.aschermann@rockdalecitizen.com.