2023 season preview: Troup girls soccer looks to make third straight playoff appearance for first time in program history
Published 9:00 am Friday, February 10, 2023
The Troup girls soccer program is coming off what is quite possibly its best stretch in history by making the playoffs in back-to-back seasons under coach Eddie Lawson. Now, up steps Carolyn Harkness — who was an assistant coach under Lawson — who has to guide a young team going through a bit of a rebuild.
“We have to build this team up,” Harkness said. “We are starting with a much younger team than in year’s past. Most of my team are freshmen so we are trying to grow a culture and build a positive atmosphere. We have to make sure the girls understand the fundamentals.”
This year will be a tough test for the Tigers, who look to make the playoffs for a third straight season. Troup enters a new region that will challenge them in ways the previous region did not.
“Our opponents are going to be a lot harder than the ones we had last year,” Harkness said. “Fayette County is a soccer area, so they have well developed teams and players there.”
With the first game coming up on Friday, the Tigers season is just around the corner. The girls are ready and raring to go against a good Harris County squad.
“They are excited to get the season going,” Harkness said. “You can tell they want to see how our 11 matches up with the other team’s 11. It will probably take a game or two under our belt before we figure out who we are and can start thriving.”
Haley Kitchens was the starter a season ago and will return to that role in 2023. She showed great promise as a first-year starter last season. With her time playing club soccer in the offseason, Harkness feels more confident in her abilities at the back.
“She’s been playing club and has really developed into an outstanding goalkeeper,” Harkness said. “I think she got a lot more confident since last year was her first year.”
Behind Kitchens there is a bit of a question mark as Kitchens is the only proven goalkeeper on the roster.
Junior Mary Joy Moosman will be the leader at the heart of the defense. She has some experience for a season ago but will have to step up and fill an even bigger role this year.
“She will lead everybody,” Harkness said. “She has really been teaching the younger girls about the position. She’s been a good leader in the back.”
Harkness is still sorting through the rest of the defense as she tries to find who best fits along the backline of four.
Kristen Vaughn and Emily Beesley departed after the 2022 season and left some big shoes to fill at the back.
Seniors Allie Foster and Mackenzy Gill will be at the heart of the midfield. The two are expected to be big-time contributors on the field but also leaders and the heartbeat of the team.
“They have stepped up to run that midfield and become very vocal leaders,” Harkness said. “They help run practice. They are two phenomenal leaders and they have done so much to help the younger girls.”
Freshman Arelie Mendoza has shown a lot of promise and will also slot in as one of the starting midfielders.
“She knows what she is doing and she knows the game,” Harkness said. “She has more experience than I expected coming into the season.”
The Tigers are tasked with replacing the most prolific goal scorer in program history as Felicity Gill graduated last May.
Freshman Grace Johnson will be the one to watch upfront.
“She is incredibly fast and I have been working with her to change positions,” Harkness said. “She used to be a goalkeeper but her pace and her shot are unbelievable.”
Foster might be a name that will see some time at one of the forward spots as Harkness continues to access her options upfront.
Kellie (KC) Sprayberry.
Mary Joy Moosman