BY TATE RUSSELL
SUN SPORTS WRITER
AFTON - Despite losing one of the most prolific scorers in school history from last season, Chuckey-Doak girls' soccer coach Anna Ricker has high expectations for the 2013 campaign.
The Lady Knights took to the pitch Tuesday night for their first scrimmage of the preseason, hosting Daniel Boone for a full 80-minute workout.
Ricker left feeling pleased with her team's opening performance.
"I thought the girls played with a lot of effort," Ricker said. "Right now we're still trying to figure out our starting 11 and they know that nothing is in stone. If they want a spot, they'll have to prove it. They'll have to show it with their effort and I thought I saw tons of effort tonight."
"Overall I think this is one of the most level teams I've had. I think I could pick 15 girls to start, so it will come down to whoever is working the hardest."
The biggest question mark facing this year's Lady Knights squad is how will they replace the 34 goals lost with the graduation of All-State honoree Hannah Riddle. The defending Region
1-A/AA Offensive Player of the Year is now at Tusculum.
"It's not often you have a player that scores that many goals on her own, so we won't try to do it with just one person," Ricker said. "We're working on a few things to find goals. Alicia Phillips is one player that will score some goals for us from center-mid and Asialyn Manuel will hopefully score some goals at forward."
Ricker feels that her team's defense can be a formidable foe for any attacking unit they face, and she will call upon the unit to lead the Lady Knights this season."
"Our defense is our strength this year," she said. "We have some good leaders back there. Brenda Mendoza is our sweeper and she communicates well back there. Heather Gosnell is just a beast for us. She plays the stopper. They both play with a lot of confidence and aggression and lead us well from the back."
Ricker is excited about the upcoming season and feels that this year's squad can be one of her best in recent history.
"This is one of the better teams I've had," she said. "I haven't seen the other teams we're going to play, but overall this may be the best team I've had in a few years."
Tuesday night against Daniel Boone, Chuckey-Doak's offense was still looking for answers as the first unit struggled at times to create chances against the speedy backline of the Lady Trailblazers.
As both teams played mostly substitutes in the scrimmage's final twenty minutes, Chuckey-Doak's reserve forwards showed they were capable of finding the back of the net. All three of the Lady Knights' goals were scored in the final quarter of action.
Ciara G'Fellers struck first in the 65th minute off a pass from Candi Montero. Montero broke by the defense and slipped the ball to G'Fellers, who struck on a wide open goal.
In the 71st minute, Chuckey-Doak picked up another goal on a wonderful G'Fellers assist. Amber Reed capped the scoring by heading in a corner kick in the 74th minute.
Through the first sixty minutes, the Lady Knights struggled to find offensive opportunities but their defense kept the Lady Trailblazers in check.
Chuckey-Doak allowed only one goal on 15 attempts.