Pictured is the 2010 Jay County High School girls soccer team. Front row from left are  Ericka Reynolds, Mallory Poole, Amber Huelskamp, Mallory Levasseur, Alex Loy and Sammi Compton. Middle row are Kassi Hemmelgarn, Shayla Gibbs, Alysia Mann, Cydney Huey, Hannah Fifer, Brittany Manor and Andrea Bruggeman. Back row are Maddie Bailey, Gabie Cross, Nikka Chaney, LeAnn Horn, Lindsay Moser, Mollie May, Tiffany Huelskamp and Katie Butcher.
Pictured is the 2010 Jay County High School girls soccer team. Front row from left are  Ericka Reynolds, Mallory Poole, Amber Huelskamp, Mallory Levasseur, Alex Loy and Sammi Compton. Middle row are Kassi Hemmelgarn, Shayla Gibbs, Alysia Mann, Cydney Huey, Hannah Fifer, Brittany Manor and Andrea Bruggeman. Back row are Maddie Bailey, Gabie Cross, Nikka Chaney, LeAnn Horn, Lindsay Moser, Mollie May, Tiffany Huelskamp and Katie Butcher.
The 2009 Jay County High School girls soccer season had its highs and its lows.
There was the high of reaching the goal of capturing the Olympic Athletic Conference title, winning those three games by a combined score of 8-1. But there was the low of finishing 1-7-1 in the regular season against non-OAC foes.
And there was the high of winning their sectional opener 3-2 over South Adams in a penalty kick shootout to avenge a regular-season loss. However a 5-9-1 finish was not what they were hoping for when the season began.
Still, it was a step in the right direction after a 2-12-1 2008 campaign, and Abby Champ’s team hopes to continue the upward trend this year.
Leading scorers Mallory Poole and Sammi Compton will lead that effort up front for JCHS, which lost just three key contributors to graduation. Poole, a senior, and Compton, a sophomore, shared the team lead with three goals apiece last season and will rotate up front with senior Lindsay Moser and freshman Cydney Huey.
“Our forwards really spent a lot of time over the off-season working on goals,” said Champ, whose team tallied just 12 goals in 15 games last season and was shut out nine times. “You can’t win games if you don’t score goals. Our girls (worked hard) and I can tell by their power and their accuracy … that they spent time (on it).”
Five players are set to support the forwards from their positions in the midfield, with juniors Tiffany Huelskamp and LeAnn Horn leading the group. Fellow midfielders will be sophomore Andrea Bruggeman and freshmen Amber Huelskamp and Alex Loy.
The Patriots have the most turn-over on the defensive back line, where just one player returns from last season — junior Nikka Chaney. First-year players Kassi Hemmelgarn, a junior who played volleyball last season, Gabie Cross, a sophomore, and Maddie Bailey, a freshman, will join Chaney.
They’ll play in front of junior Mollie May, who will be a three-year starter at goalie.
While the Patriots will be trying to improve their attack up front, they’ll also change their defensive look. They’ll go to a zone instead of the man-to-man concept they used last season.
Possibly more important than any formation changes, though, is that the above rotation includes 14 players, not counting May. And there are several more, including seniors Katie Butcher, Brittany Manor, Shayla Gibbs and Mallory Levasseur and junior Alysia Mann, who will likely join the rotation as the season continues.
That gives the Patriots many more options than they’ve had in the past two seasons, when they’ve had a much shorter bench.
“We have a lot of incoming freshmen and just new people, sophomores, juniors and seniors, who came out and are really motivated,” said Champ. “It’s really good to have numbers. We have a lot of versatility. We have a lot more options than we did last year.”
Those numbers — the roster sports 32 players — will allow the team to play a junior varsity schedule as well to help build for the future.
And Champ said she’s been impressed with how the large group has come together. She noted a practice in the preseason in which one of the players was struggling to finish a sprint workout.
“The whole team got on the track and ran with her, just to help her finish,” said Champ. “It’s little things like that that they do all the time for each other.”
Jay County hopes the combination of a deeper roster and good team chemistry will help get it back above the .500 mark.
“We want to win more games than we did last year,” said Champ. “OAC was a goal last year, and that’s not an option this year but we’d still like to win those games … We again want to go past the first round of sectional and just keep building and getting stronger.
“We’re really excited for this year. We’ve got a really great group of girls … They all come ready to work hard every day.”