Coming Back From COVID-19: Osage girls soccer looking for experience to be key in return to play
The “Coming Back From COVID-19” series will focus on spring sports programs at Camdenton, Osage, Eldon, Versailles, Macks Creek and Climax Springs who saw their seasons stripped away due to the COVID-19 pandemic last spring. The series will highlight how these programs handled those tough times and their return to action.
The COVID-19 pandemic not only prevented School of the Osage from enjoying a season last year, it also lightened up the numbers on the roster.
In 2020, the Indians were looking forward to utilizing 26 players on the pitch. Now, there are just 14 players currently on the roster, but Osage coach Jason Long is not finding any reason to fret.
“We have nine players returning from last season and added four outstanding freshmen and a very competitive sophomore to our ranks. While our numbers are light, I believe it might be a blessing because every player will get valuable experience with tons of varsity level playing time,” said Long who has led the boys program and will finally have the opportunity to lead the girls this season. “I’m pleased that quality and not quantity is the theme this spring.”
After finishing 7-17 in 2019, the program graduated four seniors in Sherman (Hong) Harvey, Neveah Henley, Jessica Bradley and Yamili Laura-Fuentes who unfortunately never had the chance to enjoy their senior seasons. The Indians also lost a returning senior in Ella DeMott who transferred.
But, there is some talent coming back to the pitch.
“Offensively, I’m looking for senior Timbre Gonnella to have a successful season with the power and accuracy she has shown in her shooting. As far as possession through the middle of the park, junior Marley Corpe and freshman Grace Larson have a ton of confidence on the ball and the whole squad is doing great with their speed of play and passing game,” the coach pointed out. “Defensively, our back line should be strong. Demi Cobb brings experience as a four-year senior and she anchors three talented backs and a keeper as the season gets underway.”
Put it all together and Long said there may be reason to be excited with the talent and athleticism this group can be capable of.
“I anticipate our squad matching up very well against opponents and being competitive all season long,” he stated. “Most likely, we will struggle with stamina early in the season with our short bench, but I expect all the girls to have a long and strong upward power curve where we should be in condition and playing our best soccer by the end of the schedule and into district play.”
However things play out, Long is hoping his players embrace the opportunity after being denied a chance to play just a year ago.
“If we have learned anything from last year, it is that nothing is for certain and we should do our best to enjoy the moment,” he said. “It is going to be a great soccer season.”
Michael Losch is the Sports Editor at the Lake Sun. He can be reached at email@example.com or 573-346-2132