There’s a new soccer sheriff on the sidelines at Tates Creek, but the level of expectations hasn’t changed for one of the state’s most accomplished girls’ programs.
Ally Tucker, who took over for Bo Lankster, joined the Commodores as an assistant in 2009. She played collegiately at Transylvania after a career at South Oldham under her father, legendary girls’ soccer coach Cy Tucker.
“It hasn’t been too rocky,” Tucker said of stepping into the head coaching role. “… The girls have really enjoyed some of the changes, but we had a really strong program before so you didn’t have to reinvent the wheel by any means.”
Tates Creek is the most recent Lexington team to have won a girls’ soccer title, doing so in 2012. Creek fell in the state semifinals in 2013 but hasn’t made the 11th Region field each of the last two seasons thanks to run-ins with fellow typical contenders Lexington Catholic and Paul Laurence Dunbar in the 43rd District Tournament.
The first-year head coach inherited a “quality senior class with great leaders.” Maddie Covey, Cam Davis, Morgan Dearinger, Ally Ferring, Haley Poynter and Mallory Shake will provide ample amount of experience to complement a freshman class Tucker believes can provide immediate impact at Creek.
“Sometimes with freshmen the hope is by the end of the season they will have adjusted to varsity and be ready to play a role,” Tucker said. “These girls, we’re throwing them in right off the bat.”
Tucker’s made a point of instilling a sense of community in the entire group, internally and externally, and is constantly encouraging volunteerism to help her players grow off the field.
“Why not use that great group of kids to have a positive impact in other areas?” she said. “They spend so much time devoted to soccer and school work, but I think it kind of shows them the bigger picture.”
The addition of Molly Davis, a junior transfer from Johnson Central who was among the state leaders in scoring last season, also will help the Commodores in their quest to get back to state. Said Tucker:
“I think that hopefully by the time October rolls around we should be in the mix, which is all you can really hope for — to have a team that by end of the season is in the conversation.”
Three big battles: vs. Henry Clay, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 29; at Owensboro Catholic, 3:30 p.m. Sept 3.; at West Jessamine, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5
Elsewhere in the city
▪ The 2015 season was one to grow on for Lafayette, which won a single game and scored just four goals all year. It also welcomes a new coach in Taylor Roden, who played at Paul Laurence Dunbar and Georgetown College. She’s working to make the Generals more offensively potent and to become better at ball control through the middle. Roden has previously coached with Lexington FC and the Dunbar JV team.
Three big battles: vs. Tates Creek, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 31; at Henry Clay, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 12; at Lexington Christian, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21
▪ Lexington Catholic graduated 12 seniors from a team that went undefeated against Lexington competition and dropped only three games, the last coming against Sacred Heart in the state finals. Kennedy Tranter, a sensational incoming junior, may carry more of an offensive load as the Knights try to replace to production of Alana Hughes, now at Centre College. Seniors Caroline Hourigan and Austin Wahle give LexCath a solid defensive presence ahead of keeper Olivia Williams, who gained crucial postseason experience as a sophomore. Cassie Corbett, Sarah Jane McCarty, Liz Thompson, Madeleine Scanlon, Katherine Youkilis, Olivia Hall and Kasey Neuer are also seniors who will provide valuable leadership.
Three big battles: at Boyle County, 7:45 p.m. Aug. 24; vs. West Jessamine, 7 p.m. Sept. 21; vs. Tates Creek, 7:30 p.m., Sept. 28
▪ Bryan Station made its first regional tournament appearance last season and stayed with a ranked Woodford County team before falling 1-0 in the first round. Coach Dan Hacker said building on that success will be a challenge, but a welcome one. The Defenders return a great deal, including All-State keeper Katelyn Gentry and All-City midfielder Emma Hacker. Fellow senior midfielders Samantha Wilson, Molly Marchaterre and Emilie Yates — who sat out 2015 recovering from a knee injury and should boost Station’s offense — are strong. Center backs Amber McIntosh and Cassandra Hacker, both juniors, give the Defenders a solid front.
Three big battles: vs. Scott County, 2 p.m. Sept. 3; vs. Henry Clay, 8 p.m. Sept. 20; vs. Tates Creek, 7 p.m. Sept. 24
▪ Last season, Lexington Christian finished as runner-up in the All “A” Classic. A returning core featuring twins Carmen and Camille Downing, Grace Henry, Grace Jacobs, Lexi Sheely and Brooke Tackett — all underclassmen except Tackett — has LCA in position to make only its second regional tournament appearance in program history. Newcomers Audrey Henry and Riley Fairchild, both freshmen, are expected to aid that effort.
Three big battles: at Tates Creek, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 7; vs. Lexington Catholic, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19; at Paul Laurence Dunbar, 8 p.m. Oct. 3
▪ Seniors Ellie Alford, Laney Helmers, Mia Pulliam and Sydney Strup — along with juniors DeeDee Wheeler and Isabel Pergande — look to give Sayre its first winning season since 2008. Coach Michael McKinney said newcomers Calbi Brewer and Wrennie Lambert will have to provide immediate minutes for the Spartans.
Three big battles: vs. Western Hills, 6 p.m. Aug. 29; at Scott County, 6 p.m. Sept. 12; vs. Bryan Station, 6 p.m. Sept. 27
▪ Henry Clay lost eight seniors from a team that lost on penalty kicks in the 11th Region semifinals. Among that group were its two leading goal scorers, Grace Whalen and Emily Cashman, but its next three leaders — Ashley Chindo (sophomore), Ruby Kate Gray (junior) and Sara Ueland (junior) — are back.
Three big battles: at Scott County, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 24; vs. Paul Laurence Dunbar, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28; vs. West Jessamine at Tates Creek, 2 p.m. Oct. 1
▪ Seniors Amy Holbrook, Grace Kelly and Jessie Rajcan will be important for Paul Laurence Dunbar, as will junior Molly Mohr, an All-State honorable mention in 2015. Sophomores Audrey Rawls, Merin Roach and Morgan Turcotte also got big minutes last season and should have a bigger role this year. Coach Tom Morgan thinks his Bulldogs will experience some growing pains because of their youth, but the time they put in now will pay big dividends in the long term.
Three big battles: vs. Bryan Station, 7:45 p.m. Sept. 7; vs. West Jessamine, 7:45 p.m. Sept. 14; at Tates Creek, 8 p.m. Sept. 26
Preseason city coaches’ poll
Team (first-place votes)
1. Lexington Catholic (7)
2. Tates Creek
3. Paul Laurence Dunbar
4. Henry Clay (1)
5. Lexington Christian
6. Bryan Station