Greenon girls soccer off to best start in a decade

The Greenon High School girls soccer team is off to its best start in a decade.

The senior-laden Knights are 6-0 this season and have outscored their opponents 42-5. Greenon beat Springfield 8-2 on Monday night.

»RELATED: Wednesday’s high school scoreboard

»RELATED: Wednesday’s high school roundup

“We expected a lot of things and we set some high goals,” Greenon coach Jamie Wiggins said. “So far, I think we’re achieving those. We have a lot of upperclassmen and over the last few years, we’ve been building. We’re really capitalizing on the things we were hoping we could do come this time.”

The key to the season so far has been fitness, said Wiggins, a 1998 Greenon grad who played collegiately at Ohio State University.

“It’s one of the things we strive for the most,” she said. “It’s the foundation of how successful we’re going to be. The more fit we are, the more successful we’re going to be.”

It’s paid off early in the season, Knights senior Maren Gilbreth said.

“We’ve definitely been training super hard,” said Gilbreth after the team’s 8-2 victory over Springfield on Sept. 10. “It sucks in the moment, but wins like this one and other games have been really great.”

The Knights have stressed one- and two-touch play in getting the ball into the final third of the field, Wiggins said.

And when they get there, the Knights are being creative in their attack, she said.

“This year, we’ve been dominant on the right and left side,” she said. “It’s all about how dynamic can we be – from services, from going 1 v. 1, from taking shots out wide – those are the things we’ve actually been hoping to do and I think we’re seeing more of that.”

Width has been an issue in the past, Gilbreth said. This year, they’re able to keep from crowding into the middle of the field, she said.

“It gives us more options and more space to move around with the ball,” Gilbreth said.

Defensively, the Knights are working hard to not only stop other teams, but also kickstart the counter-attack, Wiggins said.

Five Greenon players rank in the top-10 in scoring in the Ohio Heritage Conference. Junior Emma Cramblett leads the Knights with nine goals and six assists, followed by Hallie Gilley (seven goals, three assists), Delaney Benedict (two goals, league-high 11 assists), Morgan Paulus (six goals, one assist) and senior Madyson Fagan (four goals, two assists).

The Knights have nine seniors and four juniors who have done a great job setting the tone for their young players, she said.

“They set the tone and the bar high,” Wiggins said.

The Knights already have big wins over former Central Buckeye Conference rivals Shawnee and Kenton Ridge. They’re 2-0 in the OHC, including a 1-0 victory over Greeneview.

They’ll face several strong opponents the rest of the way, including West Liberty-Salem, Catholic Central and Fairbanks. The Knights will focus on what they do best, rather than focusing on other teams, she said.

“It boils down to who’s going to outperform the other team on any given night,” Wiggins said. “For us, our focus is to do what we do best and always outwork our opponents and be as dynamic as possible. … It’s always about trying to be better than we were the day before.”

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