August 1, 2014

Girls Soccer: Decision time for coaches, players as final spring season begins

 

Tony Lougee knew this season was coming.

The Mechanicsburg girls soccer coach is set to begin his 20th campaign  leading the Wildcats, but long before it began, Lougee had to make a choice.  With girls soccer moving to the fall after this school year, Lougee had to  choose if he wanted to continue coaching the girls or stay with the boys, who he  has coached since 1995.

In the end, Lougee decided this would be his final season with the Wildcat  girls.

“It was really difficult (to decide),” Lougee said. “I’ve been with both for  quite a long time. I enjoy coaching. I’m looking forward to some time with my  family and seeing (assistant coach) Sean Cochran take the girls team. He’s a  great coach, used to play for me. I’m excited for him.”

Soccer players and coaches from across the region are forced to decide if  this will be their last season suiting up for their school soccer teams or if  they will be moving on to a sport they love more. It’s all part of the impending  transition of girls soccer from a spring sport to a fall sport.

Under the current format, some parts of the state play girls soccer in the  fall, while others play in the spring. Starting this fall, the entire state will  play in the fall.

Most of the state switched two years ago, but a few districts, including  District 3, got a two-year waiver to continue their season in the spring while  working out logistical issues.

“We share equipment, facilities and coaching staffs,” Lougee said. “Some  teams were able to consolidate better. From a conference standpoint I think it  was good for District 3 to have a plan in place. A lot of refs did both, too,  and now there’s going to be games on the same nights.”

The biggest challenge facing athletes is deciding if they’d rather continue  to play soccer or stick with a sport they’re already committed to in the fall.  While field hockey is one of the main sports soccer players gravitate toward in  the fall, athletes could also participate in cross country, tennis or  volleyball.

Red Land girls coach Jamie Miller — who now won’t be able to coach the JV  boys or be an assistant for the varsity boys — could potentially lose players  from her girls team to different sports in the fall.

“We have players that have to make choices,” Miller said. “I could lose my  starting keeper to field hockey, and that’s a huge hole to fill. And I could  lose some other possible starters and key players and we need them.”

Miller and Lougee said many girls have already decided what they want to do  in the fall, while others will decide after the season ends. Both coaches are  supportive of whatever decision their players make.

Surprisingly, small schools may have the most to benefit from the  transition.

While schools like Camp Hill have fewer kids to spare, the Lions will benefit  in the long run from this switch because the spring season currently features  fewer teams. Spring teams are either Class AAA and AA, meaning the Lions — who  are usually Class A in sports — must play teams larger than it.

The fall format for District 3 will feature three classifications — classes  AAA, AA and A — to mirror the state tournaments. With more teams playing in the  fall than the spring, the PIAA could make an extra class to further divide the  schools.

“That’s why I’m sort of indifferent to the change,” Camp Hill coach Justin  Sheaffer said. “It’s going to hurt our talent pool, it’s going to hurt initially  that girls have to choose, but in the long run, it’s going to be great for  soccer because we will be playing schools our size come district time.”

Northern saw first-hand the consequence of not having three separate  tournaments in the postseason.

After winning the Mid-Penn Colonial title, the Polar Bears fell to eventual  state champion Cumberland Valley 9-0 in the Mid-Penn semifinals. Northern then  fell 3-0 to Hershey in the first round of districts a week later.

When soccer moves to the fall, Hershey and CV will be Class AAA, while  Northern will likely be Class AA.

“Obviously our goal at Northern is to become as competitive as possible in  the playoffs and facing some of those teams that are strong programs,” Northern  coach Mindy Smith said. “But I think it’ll be exciting and motivating for our  players to know in the playoffs they’ll compete with teams closer in size for  us. It is definitely a challenge when you’re faced with being one of the small  schools in the area.”

Smith said she prefers the fall anyway, but the Polar Bears will be hit when  a few key players have to decide. Senior captain Lauren Berry is also a tennis  star for the Polar Bears, and she wouldn’t be able to do both if she were back  in the fall.

There is a flip side to changing seasons.

“One thing that is nice, that a lot forget, is we have some track athletes  who may decide to play soccer now,” Sheaffer said. “Great runners, they’re in  shape. That’ll be a benefit from going to the fall. We’ll have some of those  girls involved in sports.”

 

The article is featured on Cumberlink.com and was written by Sentinel author Kurt Bopp

Read more: http://cumberlink.com/high-school/carlisle/girls-soccer-decision-time-for-coaches-players-as-final-spring/article_f34619fa-73bf-11e1-a4bb-001871e3ce6c.html#ixzz1pwxUQ8iZ

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