Program’s going the right way

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By Tommie Kendall

Don’t let the scoreboard fool you, the Henry County girls’ soccer team is pointed in the right direction.

Sure, they opened the 2009 season with a hard-to-swallow 10-0 loss to North Oldham last Wednesday. Sure, they still had 10 minutes remaining when the game was called due to the mercy-run rule. But opening against a team of North Oldham’s caliber, in just their second season of having a varsity team, showed the Ladycats are in fact headed in the right direction. The 10-0 loss to a top-15 team in the state was more valuable than a slim win over a smaller school.

“We actually didn’t play that terrible. It’s just part of learning to play at that level,” HCHS coach Shannon Snider said. “It might not have been the best thing to play a team like that right out of the gates, but it showed us what we need to work on. Being a growing program, that’s exactly what we needed.”

Now, Snider knows his team needs to be more aggressive to the ball and communicate better on the field. He might not have known that otherwise.

It already started to pay off the following day when the Ladycats were eager to get back to work on the practice field. Snider said his players had no problem with motivation at practice on either Thursday or Friday. They were ready to get better and, possibly, grow into a program like the one they played the night before.

“I’m proud of the way our girls played, they never stopped and were working hard the entire time,” said Snider, who pointed out that Shannon Woods and Danielle Raisor stepped up in the opener, despite the lopsided loss. “It opened their eyes a bit. They needed little encouragement the next day at practice to play hard. It was tough to swallow the score but it was good for them.”

It’s definitely hard to judge a team like Henry — a program that started at the junior varsity level in 2007 and advanced to varsity in 2008 — based on its opener against a soccer powerhouse. But they are pointed in the right direction. They have 17 players listed on their roster, including 15 sophomores.

“From that first day of practice, I’m very happy with the progress of this team,” Snider said. “We’re getting better each week. To be honest, there was no surprise at the outcome of our opening game.  We knew it would be tough. But we are getting better.”

While running laps at Harry Hill Park this summer, I kept a close eye on the soccer team as they were huffing and puffing away daily. I even saw them practicing twice per day a few times. Dedication seems to not be an issue. And because of that, the numbers on the scoreboard will one day be reversed.

Tommie Kendall can be reached at (502)845-2858 or sports@hclocal.com. Follow his Twitter account at www.twitter.com/hcsports.