Two weeks in, Mary Persons girls soccer is 3-0-1 following a 1st place victory at the Jag Cup hosted by Spalding and a 0-0 tie against Perry on Feb. 9. At the Spading tournament, the girls defeated Griffin High School 8-0, Konos Acadmy 1-0 and mercy ruled Upson-Lee 10-0. The team was supposed to play ACE on Feb. 12 but that match was delayed due to rain.
The team has five seniors this year: Maggie Sanders, Mara Emami, Sarah Boyer, Abby Pollock and Madalynne Scott. Sanders has been the team’s goalie since her sophomore year. Off the field, Sanders is a star student on track to graduate with an associate’s degree from dual enrollment. Emami is the team’s captain and a leader on and off the field. In past years, she’s played outside back but was moved to center-mid this year. Boyer plays outside back and is a very consistent athlete. Having run cross county in the fall, Boyer has the endurance to be a real team asset. Lastly, Pollock and Scott, who play outside back and outside mid, made varsity as juniors and have just started to come off the bench this year. Both have great attitudes and are all-around good teammates whether they play or not.
The team also has four freshmen that have taken on a lot of responsibility this year: Reagan Benson, Karlie Dell, Clara Smith and Ella Magda. Benson, Dell and Smith are all starters and Madga is first or second off the bench. Benson is playing forward and Dell is attacking-mid, two key positions that had to be filled this year. The positions were previously held by Abbie Davis and Taylor Buffington, two huge players that MP lost to graduation. Both held school records in goals and assists. Smith is starting as center-mid, which is a key position as well.
“All four freshmen are key to our success this season,” said head coach Dallas Hall. “Hopefully they’re able to adjust to varsity quickly because I’m going to need them this year. They’re going to have to contribute a good deal as freshmen, which is a lot to ask. But I think these girls are talented enough to rise to the occasion. I don’t expect Reagan and Karlie to contribute as much as those seniors we lost, but I still expect their contribution to be high.” Last year before COVID shut everything down, the girls team had a very good chance of winning region. The team was ranked just outside the top 10 for all the teams in AAAA.
“There were high expectations last year and it was very unfortunate that the season was cancelled. But the team this year is just as talented. We lost Taylor and Abbie who are hard players to replace but overall, I think this team is more talented than last year’s. We have to overcome those goals and assists that were lost and the younger players have to step up and perform at a high level.”
Hall says the team has a good chance of winning region this year. Their main competition is Pike County, a team that is well coached, has a lot of club players and was top five in all of AAA last year. While the overall talent in AAA is slightly lower than AAAA, the top teams are better. The top teams from Mary Persons old region were Spalding and Perry, and Hall says Pike County and Jackson are better than both of them. Pike is the last game of the regular season set to take place April 16 at home.
“I’m hoping with it being the last game, the girls will have found their stride at that point. It’s very possible that game will decide who the region champ is for 2-AAA, so that’s sure to be an exciting matchup.”
The girls next game will be at home against Stratford on Wednesday, Feb. 17 @ 5:30 p.m. Mary Persons and Stratford haven’t faced off since Hall’s first year with the program five years back. Should the rain continue, the location could move to Stratford because of their turf field. Regardless of where it’s played, it’s sure to be a good matchup that you don’t want to miss.