March 6, 2014

CHS girls adjust to 4A, new strike force

Adam Troxtell
The Express-Star


Goals are a crucial part of any soccer season, and the Chickasha girls will set about replacing 32 of them when they begin their season next week.

The exit of Hannah Elrod (20 goals) and Kelsey Taylor (12 goals) from the Lady Chicks program as seniors last year means head coach Bethany Goble's offseason and preseason job is to drum up a way to retain that attacking power under some slightly different conditions. Chickasha competes at the Class 4A level in soccer this year, presenting them with new opponents like Bridge Creek and Newcastle.

"We're in the toughest district," Goble said. "We've got some tough teams to be facing. But, [the players] come to compete."

By all accounts except mother nature's, Chickasha should already be competing. The recent winter weather postponed their season opener against Shawnee last Tuesday to this Monday.

When they finally do take to the pitch, Goble is expecting a fit, attack-minded team to take on each game as an efficient pocket watch: each part moving in it's assigned way to keep everything smooth and simple.

"We're all about fitness," she said. "We'll do technical, spread them out, work through the middle; but we literally play until the final whistle. We kill the teams with our shape. That's my style."

This way took Chickasha to the second round of the state tournament last season, and Goble expects the team to achieve those heights again. Senior Amanda Black, whose older sister Casey started in goal for the Chicks last year, will help run things from the back as the team's defensive midfielder. She'll serve as one of the team's pivot points, where opposing attacks end and the Chickasha offense begins.

"I try to be a good leader on the field and in the locker room," Black said. "Now that we're in 4A, it's like a fresh start for us. We just don't need to get big heads and continue to go in strong."

At the head of that attacking push forward many times this season will be junior Tara Arnold. Goble said while she expects all of her team to rise to the occasion again this season, she's expecting Arnold to rack up plenty of goals.

"Tara Arnold is one I would throw out there as one of our offensive attackers," Goble said. "She's going to be my goal scorer, because of her speed, strength, and her want. But there's quite a few girls. They all do their job, and that makes us successful."

The Lady Chicks are dealing with a few injuries coming out of preseason, and depth could be an issue if that trend continues. Over her six years at Chickasha, Goble said she's seen them come up against teams closer to the city where there are more opportunities for year-round club soccer. She's developed a way to overcome this.

"We're probably not the best technically, we don't have many club players, but if they all do their job, that makes us successful," she said. "The year before we lost eight seniors, so I have no fear. It is hard. To fight these other teams is constant work, touch of a soccer ball, keeping them fit; that's our philosophy."