By Terry Gaston
Brewton-Parker College freshman defender Sheena Lehman (5) of Concord, Ga., dribbles the ball upfield with sophomore defender Megan Smith (15) of Guyton, Ga., moving up from behind and junior defender Anna Fry (3) of Athens, Ga., setting up against a Thomas University defender in women's soccer action Wednesday Sept. 4 in Mount Vernon, Ga.
BPC Public Relations
After spending several years as an assistant college soccer coach and additional experience as an Olympic Developmental Program coach, Jeremy Aven takes on his first head-coaching experience collegiately this fall at Brewton-Parker College.
And, with only 12 healthy players to begin the year, Aven is seasoned enough to realize that any success the Lady Barons experience this fall will be dictated by keeping things simple.
"What we are looking for is keeping it as simple as possible," said Aven, who will take the Lady Barons to Tennessee to open their season Friday (Aug. 29) at Lee University a 7:30 p.m. and Saturday (Aug. 30) at Cumberland College at noon.
"A lot of people try to make (soccer) too complex, and keeping it simple helps all the players when they are on different level skills," added Aven, whose team opens its home schedule Sept. 4 against Thomas College at 2 p.m.
Aven looks to a core group of four returning starters, with seven returnees overall, to provide the needed leadership to nurture the younger team members on playing collegiate-level soccer.
"The girls have a great attitude and are quick learners," Aven said. "They catch on very quickly and work hard the whole time."
Aven said he realized early in the preseason the challenge of building a competitive squad, one he hopes will improve on the Lady Barons'4-15 finish of last season.
"We had four or five who came in ready to play at this level," Aven said. "Our top four are solid. Some of the girls with experience get the most out of what we're working on and help out with the other girls."
Senior leadership will fall to two of the four returning starters, center-midfielder Lisa Cozzarin and defender Kendra Sewell.
Cozzarin, who is from Guelph, Ontario, was named to the Georgia-Alabama-Carolina Conference's All-Academic Team and the GACC's All-Conference Team. Sewell is from Canton, Ga., and will play at one outside marking back position.
Tabitha Barrett, a sophomore midfielder from Oxford, Ga., returns after she joined Cozzarin on the All-Academic Team last fall. The other junior returnee is outside midfielder Emily Scheer of Savannah, Ga., while sophomore Megan Smith of Guyton, Ga., moves into the starting lineup at defensive midfielder.
The Lady Barons return two other sophomore veterans, forward goalkeeper-defender Monica Miller of Lyons, Ga., and Karen Taylor of Burlington, Ontario. Aven is hoping Taylor is able to recover from a knee injury that is expected to keep her sidelined until mid-September.
Newcomers who are expected to play in starting roles include freshman sweeper Sheena Lehman of Concord, Ga., who worked her way out of the backfield to score twice in the final 10 minutes to forge a 2-2 tie in the Lady Barons' Aug. 17 scrimmage at Darton Junior College.
Other starting newcomers include freshman goalkeeper Michelle McRaven of Bull, Ga., whom Aven said stopped four of Darton's five breakaway attempts in their scrimmage.
Other probable starters have freshman Brandi Culpepper of Lithonia, Ga., at outside midfielder; junior Anna Fry of Athens, Ga., at center-midfielder; freshman Andrea Gaston of Martinez, Ga., at forward and freshman Kelly Phillips of Uvalda, Ga., at outside marking back.
Two other freshmen round out the roster: Elizabeth Stanford, a midfielder from Douglasville, Ga.; and Jennifer Tippens, a defender-midfielder from Blackshear, Ga."We think they have the opportunity to do better than they did last year," Aven said. "I think, by the end of the year, we will surprise some people."