For The Beacon
Russell Lady Devils’ soccer has continued its storied tradition under coach John Perry.
The team has managed to take home the 16th region championship in four out of Perry’s five years leading the way.
While the region appeared up for grabs last year, Russell looks to be the favorite entering 2021.
Russell Lady Devils
Russell got hot at the right time last year after entering the region tournament going 0-6-1 in their previous seven games. They ultimately edged out East Carter to make it back to state.
Coach Perry’s club loses just one senior from last year’s team, although it was a big loss.
Lena Blanke led the way with 24 goals and five assists in her last year in maroon and gold.
Ava Quinn is back after putting up 11 goals and 18 assists in her freshman year and had a big offseason being named as the Senior Division Gatorade Player of the Virginia Tech Elite Players Academy.
Alongside Quinn are the talented Eva Blanke (5 goals, 9 assists), Isabela Barker (2 goals, 2 assists), Macy Vonderheide (2 goals, 1 assist), Kyndall DuVall (1 goal, 1 assist) and Jenna Adkins (2 assists).
Raegan Williams returns as goalie after she had 121 stops and four shutouts last year.
Ashland Lady Cats
Ashland fell short of the region tournament a year ago after they had made it to the state’s final four round in 2019.
The Lady Cats went from an average of just under six scores a game as a team in 2019 to right at three per outing in 2020, but still managed to post a 6-5-1 record.
Head coach John Cook’s group loses six super seniors in which five of the six contributed with goals or assists.
They were set to return two capable scorers in Milei Baker (8 goals, 1 assist) and Raegan Slone (6 goals, 1 assist) but both will miss the season due to knee injuries.
Laney Sorrell, Amelia Lucas, and Emma Vanhorn also have the ability to score and get their teammates involved. Gracie Madden will return in goal after racking up 130 saves and four shutouts in the 2020 season.
Cook will also look to an emerging group of freshmen that he feels can make an impact right away.
Boyd County Lady Lions
The season last year started off a bit slow for Boyd County before they caught fire, as the Lady Lions began 0-3 before reeling off nine wins in a row.
They would ultimately follow that up with an opening round district tourney defeat at the hands of Rowan County.
Now, Boyd County will be led by first year head coach Olivia Pennington who replaces Billy Kemper.
Pennington will be tasked with replacing nine seniors from last year’s squad including the top four leading goal scorers.
Laci Boyd (4 goals, 1 assist) is the team’s returning scoring leader, and Shianne Manley (1 goal), Morgan Ray, and Isabella Opell (80 saves, 4 shutouts) are among several who have returning varsity experience.
Greenup County Musketeers
The Lady Musketeers are looking for their first .500 finish since going 6-6-1 in 2015, and their first ever winning record as far back as KHSAA records go.
To try and do that, they’ll turn to new leadership. Brookelyn Lott will be Greenup County’s next coach as Olivia Ross will join her in an assistant position.
Greenup County will get all of their scoring power back, as they’ll return Emma Kay Ruark (2 goals), Sydney Sparks (2 goals), Taylor Gammon (1 goal, 2 assists), and Emma Frazier (1 assist).
They’ll have to find a way to replace net minder Sarah Hall (139 saves) and replace two other seniors from last year, though they have 17 players coming back who played in every match a year ago.