The Lady Warriors soccer players have a lot of things going for them this year, but nothing more important than their high morale and enthusiasm. This is a team that believes they’re going to win and have fun doing it. Whatever they do, they’re going to do it together.
Brand new head coach Shannon Arbogast believes in family and the power of positive thinking, so he’s the perfect leader for the tight-knit Lady Warriors soccer squad.
“I switched from coaching football and came over here,” he said. “I was a little hesitant about it, but once I got to practice and saw the girls’ enthusiasm and love of the game, it got me excited.”
Arbogast said the girls’ strong sense of unity allowed them to overcome frequent coaching changes.
“As far as their skill level, they’ve come a long way,” said the coach. “Even though they’ve had different coaches the last few years, they have gotten better by working together. It’s going to be trying for them because I’ve changed some of the formations, but I think they’re going to be pretty good.”
Arbogast played in adult soccer leagues for several years before the school offered the sport.
“When soccer got started in Pocahontas County is when I got started,” he said. “Martin McQueen was my coach. I played for 16 years and played with a lot of good players. Howard Walker was on my team and he went on to college to play. I played goalie and midfielder. I know quite a bit, but I did have to get caught up with the modern style of soccer.”
The coach is still getting to know his team, but already has high expectations for three players, in particular.
“Brittany McMillion- she’s got a lot of speed and she plays year-round,” he said. “She plays on other teams and stuff. She’s very skilled with the ball and knows where to put the ball and can get it to other players.
“Kayleigh Arbogast – she’s really good in the midfield with distributing the ball to the forwards up front. She calms the team down. She settles the ball and gets everybody organized.
“Heather Pritt – she’s played for a long time and has a lot of skill. I moved her up front to take charge of that front line for me and keep them organized.”
Pritt, a four-year starter for the Lady Warriors, said teamwork will be an important advantage for the Lady Warriors this year.
“I think this year we’re all going to be able to work a lot better together, because we’ve played longer and we’ve got more experience on the team,” she said. “I think it’s important to build a bond. We’re kind of like a family. I know everybody here. We all get along and we’ll do whatever we can to help each other out.”
Pritt said two sophomores could be impact players this season.
“We have Allie Burns, who’s a really good striker and really fast,” she said. “We’ve got Sidney Rose, who can cross the ball like a pro. So, I think we’ll definitely be able to use our strengths and help each other out on the team.”
Senior Natalie Hartzell started playing soccer when she was six years old. Hartzell is an excellent athlete and a standout on the softball and basketball teams, but she didn’t sign up for soccer until her senior year.
“The coach talked me into coming out for soccer this year,” she said. “I like it. I’m glad I did it.”
Junior Emily Booth was just four years old when she started playing soccer. She’s now a third-year veteran with PCHS. Booth is filling in at goalie until talented senior Brice Galloway returns from National Guard training.
“We had a handful of people selected to try out at practice and I just happened to stick in there,” she said. “Until our main goalie gets back from basic training, I’ll be the back-up. I’m kind of nervous, but I’m just trying to work everyday, even on days off, practicing at it.”
“I think we’ve got a lot of speed this year,” she said. “Even though we have some new players and ones who have come back from a year off or so, I think we’ll be pretty good. We have a lot of girls who can run to the ball and make cuts and get to the goal pretty fast.”
Arbogast thinks people unfamiliar with soccer would become fans if they came to watch a game.
“It’s more exciting than what you think,” he said. “Once you get to watching it, there’s a lot more to it than just kicking the ball up and down the field. It is a contact sport. There is a lot of banging and hitting. It’s more exciting than what a lot of people think. They just have to come out and watch to see how hard these girls play. I think they probably run four or five miles in a game. That takes a lot of endurance. It’s constantly moving. The action’s always there.”
The Lady Warriors play their first match at home against Philip Barbour on August 26 at 5 p.m.