There’s talent spread throughout the Greenon Knights girls soccer team roster, for sure. But next season’s team will feel the impact as nine seniors take with them valuable experience and depth. That’s why coach Jamie Wiggins has labeled this a “make or break season for us.”
So far, so good for the Knights. They’re making it tough on their competition at 8-1 overall and 3-0 in the Ohio Heritage Conference. But there have been some tough breaks, too, most notably three injuries, including a pair of ACL tears.
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“This is the year we have the most potential,” said Wiggins, now in her third season. “You either capitalize with this type of talent or you let it go by the wayside. This is it.”
Greenon has capitalized with an aggressive attack, a stingy defense and – most of all – a versatile roster. Junior Emma Cramblett was a Division II all-district, first-team selection on defense by the Miami Valley Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association last season. With a need up top Wiggins moved her to center-midfield this season.
Cramblett has responded with a team-high 11 goals, which ranks second in the OHC. Her six assists are second on the team behind junior Delaney Benedict’s OHC-leading 13.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries along the way but that doesn’t set us back as a team because everyone is a versatile player,” Cramblett said. “We’re all willing to play anywhere because that’s what we need to do as a team.”
Hallie Gilley ranks fourth in the OHC with seven goals. Senior Madyson Fagan and freshman Morgan Paulus are tied for fifth with six goals each. Junior Alex Cunningham has five goals and senior Clare Wilson four for Greenon, which has outscored opponents 50-9.
Wiggins said the Knights have created scoring opportunities with outstanding attacks from both the left and right side. That offense could get even better when the Knights improve their one-on-one chances and recognizing when to turn and fire within the 18-yard box.
Defensively, seniors Mallory Mundy and Ally Whitaker have shared time with a 50/50 split at keeper.
“We haven’t done that in the past, but they’re both seniors and they both compete,” Wiggins said. “We are playing the best players on the field, and it’s not necessarily their first position. It may not be their comfortable position, but they recognize it’s their role and they’re getting it done.”
When Cramblett moved to midfield, seniors Josie Marshall and Julia Valley stepped up on defense with “their speed, their composure and their physical play,” Wiggins said.
“(Coach Wiggins) is tough but she’s a really, really good coach,” Valley said. “I feel like we’ve learned a lot. One our other coaches, Heather (Cramblett), she’s coached us for the longest time, too. They’re amazing coaches. They’re hard but they push us to where we need to be.”
Greenon’s bid for the OHC title faced a challenge with Catholic Central (6-2-1 overall, 3-0-1 OHC) on Thursday. Mix in West Liberty-Salem and Fairbanks and the OHC should be a four-team sprint to the finish. Count the Knights in shape for the final run. Fitness is a trademark of Wiggins’ teams, something the 1998 Greenon grad learned from John Teter during her playing days.
“If we do fitness, she does it, too. She’s there with us … if not doing better than us,” Marshall said. “We’ve been working really hard at practice and we came into the season ready. I’ll give that credit to our coaches, they made sure we were ready. This sense of team, ever since our freshman year, is a great feeling.”