LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- With 10 starters returning and over 20 returning players overall, the Covenant women's soccer team has high expectations heading into 2018. Head coach Mark Duble and his Lady Scots are set to begin the 25th season of the program's history on Friday when they travel to Grantham, Pa., to face national power, and No. 5-ranked, Messiah (5 p.m.).
Coming off a season that saw Covenant advance to the semifinals of the USA South Tournament, Duble returns a wealth of talent and also added newcomers who could make a major impact in their first years on Lookout Mountain.
Covenant returns all top five goal scorers from last year, the entire back line, and one of the best goalkeepers in the conference. Pull that together and add a dynamic freshman striker and one can see the potential that the Lady Scots possess in 2018.
Top goal scorer in junior Addy Cronan returns after she tallied 11 goals and seven assists last year and was named to the All-USA South West Division first team. Junior Lizzy Hightower also returns coming off a five-goal season, while sophomores Kyra Duble and Paige Simons are coming off strong freshman season where they each scored four times. Sophomore Molly Kate McClearn added three goals last season as she also returns.
As impressive as the returning goal scorers are, the defense is just as formidable.
Senior Rachel Lemay has been a mainstay at keeper since her freshman season and has become one of the best in the league and regionally. Lemay earned All-USA South first team honors and was a United Soccer Coaches All-South Atlantic Region second team choice last season as she recorded six shutouts and a 0.69 goals against average. Aiding in the backfield are sophomores Kendyll Freeman (All-USA South West first team in 2017), Katie LaPenna, Grace Herring, and Sophia Andre. The culmination of the strong defensive play were the 10 shutouts the Lady Scots recorded in 2017, tied for third-most in program history.
In the midfield, junior Anna Robertson is joined by sophomore Elsa Woody and others. Also returning this season are juniors Abby Gienapp and Riley Battenfield along with sophomores Megan Rasku, Layne Nash, and Emma DiDomenico.
Lemay is one of six seniors on the squad. Lizzie Bird, Grace Buys, Gina Hungerford, Hannah King, and Carter Steedley comprise the rest of the senior class that have helped the program to 34 wins over their three seasons.
Duble's recruiting class netted eight freshmen, including forward Kailey Burrell. From nearby Trenton, Ga., Burrell was a standout for Dade County where she set school records for goals scored and was the Chattanooga-area player of the year after her junior season. The rest of the freshman class includes Sarah Agee, Bethany Caudal, Cyan Cox, Julie Meritt, Audrey Parker, Hannah Rodehaver, and Mary Streets.
This year marks the 25th season of varsity competition for the women's soccer program. Duble has been through it all as the head coach of the program for all 24 years.
The program has had great success over the years with 257 victories and a .609 all-time winning percentage. Covenant has had winning seasons in seven of the last eight years, and the program has finished with at least a .500 record in 21 seasons overall. The Lady Scots have totaled 12 conference championships (regular season and tournament) and have appeared in two national tournaments.
The season starts off with a tough contest at perennial national power Messiah on Friday. Covenant will also play at Franklin & Marshall on Saturday to complete the trip up north.
Only six regular season matches are slated for Scotland Yard, starting with Sewanee on Sept. 12 and then Transylvania on Sept. 15 for Homecoming. Piedmont, picked at the top of the USA South West Division along with Maryville in the league's preseason poll, will come to Lookout Mountain on Sept. 26.
The USA South Tournament is set to begin on Oct. 24. The top six teams in each division qualify for the tournament, with seeds 3-4 hosting first round matches on Oct. 24. Divisional seeds 1-2 receive a first round bye and host quarterfinal round matches on Oct. 27. The highest remaining seed will host the semifinals and championship on Nov. 2-3.
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTS
Be sure to follow the Scots all season long on athletics.covenant.edu and on social media at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for up-to-date scores, news and other information. To receive text alerts with score updates or e-newsletters, click here