HENDERSONVILLE – Ten games into the season and no one feels sorry for Amber McCullough’s lack of upperclassmen.
The Hendersonville girls soccer coach has one senior and two juniors on the roster.
She has a team full of underclassmen who have rattled off a 9-0-1 start. Collectively, they are ranked 14th in latest NCHSAA 2-A poll from the N.C. Soccer Coaches Association.
“Historically this team has had good leadership from the top,” McCullough said. “I worried a little bit, but at the same time, I knew the freshmen were ahead of their time and I had great leadership among my sophomore class. When they were freshmen they were already showing leadership.”
The young players have defined the work ethic and set the team goals and pushed the squad to this start.
In 10 games, the Bearcats have scored 60 goals. To put their youth in perspective, freshmen have scored 18 of the goals and sophomores have scored 31.
“They’ve played really well together as a team,” the second-year coach said. “Every time when I enter stats, it’s super spread out. Lots of different people scoring and lots of people getting points.”
Eleven players have scored and 13 players have notched assists. Seven players have scored four or more times, led by sophomore Lupita Melendez’s 14 goals. Junior Joanna Guy, sophomore Breanna Kirk and freshman Martha Smith each have seven goals and freshman Eden Hawkins has six.
Even with such a young squad, there were high expectations for the Bearcats. Last year’s junior varsity squad went undefeated and, McCullough said, only allowed one goal.
This season’s varsity team has allowed just 37 shots and opponents have scored just five times. Freshman goalkeeper Camryn Coggins has posted five shutouts already.
“With the girls that are on the team this year and how everyone is connecting it’s not surprising,” said Kirk, who also leads the team with 15 assists. “It’s been great.”
The school’s volleyball team won state titles from 2012 to 2014 and those teams weren’t always laden with senior talent. That fact has poised this soccer team to better last year’s third-round playoff appearance.
“I think it’s great that we’re young because we have great years coming,” Kirk said.