ARGOS – Stringing together a string of very successful seasons has left the Argos Lady Dragons hungry for just a little more.
“We’ve won the sectional the last three years and I want to continue that but I want to get out of the regional,” said head coach Joe Stone. “Everybody wants to win a state title that’s a given but right now I’d like to get to a semi-state game. I think we have a good chance to do that and we are pushing hard to get to that goal.”
Stone feels that he’s got a lot of the parts to pursue that goal.
“I know I’m biased but in my opinion, we are only getting better,” he said. “We have a great bunch of girls this season, we have a great freshmen class coming in.”
“I’ve got seven returning starters that started all of last year and three of those girls were freshmen last year,” said Stone. “I’ve got a really good core and pretty good depth.”
Madlyn VanDerWeele, Sydney Shepherd, and Alyssa Poisel form the core of seniors returning to the Lady Dragons along with another “wild card” returning for a senior season.
“Madisyn Barcus is back, she is coming back from an injury,” said Stone. “It’s taken her three years to get back after tearing her ACL but she is playing like she was when she went down.”
Allison Zahm, Hannah Trump, Lizzy Edmonds, are the core of returning juniors who had a big impact on a 14-4-1 record a year ago. Sophomores
Lauren Mcglothin, Aryanna Allen, Bella Stults, Emma Dunlap, Kayden Baughman return to the lineup.
“It’s going to be a young lineup but it’s going to be a good lineup,” said Stone. “Most of them have played travel soccer with me over the years and that’s a positive.”
The one slight negative is the number of players, but that could have a silver lining.
“The only problem is that we had only 25 girls come out and we have a full varsity and JV schedule,” said Stone. “Some of our upperclassmen will have to play some JV. We will have to watch the number of halves because you only get 36 halves in a season, and if you play 16 varsity games that’s 32 right there.”
The silver lining is the opportunity for more game experience.
“That will be the good thing,” said Stone. “Those girls made the varsity but maybe they are down the lineup a little bit this will give them a chance to get more playing time to build up their skills and help out the JV when the JV needs help. Or vice versa.”
The pursuit of any team goals has a new opponent that is unseen in dealing with COVID-19.
“It has been a lot tougher than most people might think,” said Stone. “Our first priority has been keeping the girls safe. We are doing our part, we are in constant contact with our athletic department, we are always getting updates. There will be one day when we have to do one thing and the next day we have to do something else.”
“I’ve been very blessed that my girls have accepted it with a great attitude,” he said. “We just keep moving forward.”
“We’ve had to switch up practices when they’ve changed things but honestly I usually make up three different sets of practice plans even before the pandemic,” said Stone. “There are those times when you get 10 minutes into doing something and you realize your girls just aren’t getting it and there is no use yelling at them you just stop and get a drink and come back to something else.”
“Everybody getting used to the mask and not getting together to talk,” he said. “You just have to keep reminding everybody, six feet apart, six feet apart. As long as the girls are accepting of it, and they are, it makes things go a lot easier for us.”
Another hurdle in the run for the goal is one easily seen, the strength of schedule, which would rank right up there for Argos.
“I like it that way,” said Stone. “I’d make it even tougher if I could.”
The uncertainty of the times and loss of practice time is also a concern but Stone feels his team is ahead of the curve dealing with those.
“We are a little bit behind but in reality, we didn’t get any June this year,” he said. “That’s the time when girls normally get into ‘soccer shape’ to get ready for the season. We’ve had to cut down on the ball touches in July and use that time to get into shape.”
“We are a little behind but I’m very happy where we are,” said Stone. “It’s been hot and that has taken a toll here and there but I’m very happy where we are.”