By Dave Wagner
Slowly but surely, the Clovis High girls soccer roster is growing.
First-year coach Larry Jones started practice on Aug. 11 with less than 20 players, meaning that even fielding a junior varsity team was in some jeopardy. By the end of the first week, the number grew to 22.
Now the Lady Wildcats are up to 25 players, and ready for Saturday’s 3 p.m. season opener against Roswell Goddard at the Yucca Soccer Complex. A JV match is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Senior goalkeeper Jessica Doss said that while the team is small in numbers and relatively young (five seniors), the potential is there to do well.
“We have people who are going to work hard for this coach and respect him,” said Doss, the keeper on last year’s team, which went 6-12-1. “We might not win them all, but we’ll have a team that sticks together.”
Several freshmen who saw regular duty as eighth-graders give the Lady Cats more experience than the years in school next to the names would indicate. Forward-midfielders Kela Williams and Jordan Garrett, forward Calie Rush and defender Abbey Garrett all fall into that category.
“It’s going to be a challenge, but we have some speed in Kela and Calie,” Jones said. “The future looks bright for the program, if we can just get our intensity up and play physical when we need to.
“It’s one of those things where we have experience, but overall the team will still be pretty young. We’ll be counting on Jess (Doss) quite a bit, since she’s the keeper, plus quite a few of the freshmen and sophomores.”
Doss said she thinks the Lady Cats are close to being ready for the opener.
“There’s definitely some things we need to work on, but I think we’re ready,” she said. “Most of the freshmen we have are pretty good. I think that, plus their experience, will help them.”
The Lady Cats play their first five games at home, hosting their own invitational Aug. 28-29 and then entertaining Artesia on Sept. 2. The first road trip takes them to a tournament in Roswell on Sept. 5-6.
“I’m hoping for good things,” Jones said. “I guess the first test will come against Goddard. Our endurance is getting better; it’s still not where I’d like it to be, but I’ve seen improvement in that area. And just having some extra bodies will help.”