Mattie Walburn
Brock Netter

Brock Netter

Brock is SOSA's primary writer and has worked for the Coshocton Tribune, the Kankakee Daily Journal (Ill.) and the Vinton-Jackson Courier. He's a two-time award-winning journalist, a lifelong WWE fan, a suffering Bengals fan and calls the sidelines his home.

5 questions about the upcoming girls soccer season

Soccer season is right around the corner. We answer five of your burning questions before it starts.

Brock Netter, Staff Writer

Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.

Didn’t June just start a few days ago? 

Eastern’s Rylee Leonard leads the defending regional champion Warriors into the fall.
CREDIT: Derrick Webb/SOSA

This summer has passed by in the blink of an eye and, believe it or not, we are less than three weeks away from a new soccer season’s first touch.

Last fall, the area enjoyed several deep tournament runs after being thoroughly entertained throughout the regular season. But those slates are now clean. So what can we expect to see next?

We asked our readers to submit questions geared towards the upcoming soccer season — both on the boys and girls sides. Here, we answer five girls soccer inquiries.

Eastern Brown went to the Final Four last season. Can the Warriors recreate that type of magic again this year? 

I’m not entirely sure back-to-back Final Four runs are in the cards for the Warriors. They did lose five seniors, including three of the team’s top four scorers. That type of leadership isn’t easy to replace. However, could they get back and win a district title? Absolutely. First off, anytime you have Rylee Leonard up top, you have a chance. Alyssa Perkins is back in goal after coming up with 87 saves last season. Add in Mackenzie Doston, Mackenzie Wiles, Madi Belcher, Emma Litzinger and Alissa Duncan, alongside a new wave of talent ready to make their mark, and it’s very possible the district runs through Eastern Brown. 

Who do you believe will win conference titles this year across SOSA’s coverage area? 

So for those who are catching onto SOSA just now, first things first: welcome to the show. We cover the SVC, FAC, SHAC, SOC and MSL-Buckeye, alongside a handful of other teams, as we continue to expand our umbrella. As far as your question goes, this is who I believe will rein supreme atop their respective conferences: Chillicothe (FAC), Unioto (SVC), Wheelersburg (SOC), Lynchburg-Clay (SHAC) and Fairfield Union (MSL-Buckeye). 

As a dynamic duo, who tops your list as scorers/playmakers?

This is a loaded question. There’s so many options and great players who feed off of one another. Last season, Fairfield’s Ella Newkirk and Cadence Saunders were the best duo as they combined to score 51 of the Lions’ 82 goals. This season, I’m taking Chillicothe’s Ali Mathis and Gemma Maimone. Now, I’ll say this, Chillicothe is richly spoiled with talented players who can score at any point. But when the rubber meets the road, Mathis and Maimone are the straws that stir the drink. Two seasons ago, Maimone was the Cavs’ leading scorer with 23 goals and it was Mathis last season who led with 17 scores. They both scored 20-plus goals in 2020, and they’ll do it again this season. 

Chillicothe’s Ali Mathis scored 17 goals to lead the Cavaliers last season.

In your opinion, who is an underrated team that the area should keep an eye on this season?

Division II is always a juggernaut to go through year in and year out with teams like Hillsboro, Unioto, Warren, Marietta and, of course, defending district champion Fairfield Union. However, watch out for Jackson this season. For starters, most of the Ironladies’ starters from last fall are back. That includes Abby Seimetz, Mattie Walburn, Sydney Fain, Jade Winters, Makayla Wyant and T.J. Carpenter. More importantly, Jackson isn’t just experienced, but motivated to silence its doubters. Watch out because, come October, this could be a very dangerous team.

Who do you believe will lead the area in scoring?

Make no mistake; there are a ton of great players who have a knack for finding the back of the net. But I believe Minford’s Haley Knore will top the area’s scoring chart. Ever since she’s donned the red and grey, she’s been a machine. She’s led Minford in scoring all three years. Currently sitting at 84 goals in her career, I fully anticipate her scoring her 100th this fall, and potentially, reaching the 120-goal mark before it’s all said and done. Yes, she’s that good. If you let her get within 15 yards of the goal, you’ve usually already lost. 


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