Fayette County

LexCath soccer hopes to justify No. 3 ranking

Lexington Catholic isn't used to early exits.

From 2000 to 2006, the Lady Knights' soccer teams advanced to the state's sweet 16 six times and the final four four times.

But in the past two years, highly rated Catholic teams haven't been able to get that far, falling twice in the region tournament to West Jessamine.

Coach Terry Quigley would like to see all of that change this season.

"They've been disappointed the last two seasons," he said. "They want to get out there and prove that they can compete with the best again."

The coaches clearly think Catholic can, ranking the Knights No. 3 in the pre-season poll behind top-ranked Sacred Heart, which has won back-to-back state championships, and Manual.

Expectations are high for the Knights, who return a bulk of their talent from last season, including leading goal scorer Chelsea Smith, who will get help from some fast freshmen coming in.

But Quigley doesn't want the expectations to be too high just yet.

He thinks a No. 10 ranking probably would have been more accurate.

He definitely doesn't want his players thinking they're on one of the top teams in the state this early in the season.

"I hope they're just twittering, tweeting and blogging and not reading the newspaper or reading the Kentucky Prep stuff," he said.

Catholic isn't the only team in the area that has high expectations.

The Knights' nemesis, West Jessamine, which lost just two games last season, is rated right behind them at No. 4 and returns junior speedsters Arin Gilliland and Teryn Wright.

No. 7 Woodford County, which has upset West Jessamine for two straight years, has a young but talented group and strong senior leaders in Katrina Ott and Lyndsay Vance.

Tates Creek Coach Bo Lankster, who took over the girls' team this season, thinks the Knights are a step above the rest right now.

"Catholic would have to be the best team in the city and you could probably take Christian and Henry Clay and us and Dunbar and kind of put us in the next group," said Lankster, whose team is rated No. 22. "Obviously, Woodford and (West) Jessamine are on a more upper echelon level in the state, too."

Dunbar and Henry Clay both received votes in the pre-season poll as well.

Steve Fugmann said he doesn't feel any pressure coming in and taking over a Lexington Christian team rated No. 18.

"I don't mind starting 18 or higher because it gives you somewhere to go," he said. "We sat down last week and talked to the team about setting goals. The goals that we've set have never really been accomplished by any LCA girls' team. There's no pressure on us, it's really about the excitement of going places we've never been."

Other top-10 teams include No. 5 Highlands, No. 6 Notre Dame, No. 8 Assumption, No. 9 Ohio County and No. 10 Anderson County.

Pre-season girls soccer poll

As voted on by the state's coaches

1. Sacred Heart (17)

2. Manual (2)

3. Lexington Catholic

4. West Jessamine

5. Highlands

6. Notre Dame

7. Woodford County

8. Assumption

9. Ohio County

10. Anderson County

11. Marshall County

12. Elizabethtown

13. South Oldham

14. Greenwood

15. St. Henry

16. Daviess County

17. Boyle County

18. Lexington Christian

19. Oldham County

20. North Oldham

21. Newport Central Catholic

22. Tates Creek

23. Murray

24. Campbell County

25. Bishop Brossart

Receiving votes: Paul Dunbar, Bourbon County, Scott County, Ballard, Henry Clay, Central Hardin, Eastern, Nelson County

*First place votes in parenthesis.