The Liberty County boys’ soccer team will be under new head coach Kristin Hill when the school’s teams open their seasons Thursday by hosting Brunswick.
Hill coached a girls’ varsity team in Michigan for two years. Her husband is stationed at Fort Stewart, bringing her to Georgia and Liberty County High School.
“And when the position opened up here, I just jumped on it because I love soccer,” she said, adding the boys’ didn’t seem to mind a female head coach. She said they quickly reached out to her around early September to get acquainted and started setting up conditioning schedules.
“It is my first experience,” Hill said about coaching boys. “I’m excited about it, and so far they have really thick skin. They’ve taken criticism pretty well, and they have a positive attitude.”
Hill said she watched a few of last year’s boys’ games.
“And I saw a little bit of a disconnect in the way their plays were run … so we are working on passing lanes and making sure we keep our form while we are passing,” she said.
Hill believes the Panthers have plenty of depth.
“I have about 22 kids on the team and 16 of them are return players, so we are doing well,” she said. “We are about three deep at our goalkeeper position … I am feeling pretty confident.”
On Feb. 19, Liberty hosts Bradwell, and Hill said she has learned just how important that game is to her players.
“I quickly learned about the rivalry … I am really excited, I love crosstown rivalries … I am the product of two high schools in one town … it will be a lot of fun,” she said.
The Lady Panthers also are looking forward to a great year, as coach Jarvis McArthur said his front third looks strong.
“I expect us to be strong again up front,” he said. “Our forwards and midfield lack a little experience, but it’s the defenders, we don’t have our defenders … defensively, we are going to struggle.”
McArthur said he has a lot of experienced players this year.
“We have some returnees,” he said. “We have Courtney Welch, and she has been leading the team for the last three years. Myesha Robinson is back and she was our high scorer last year. Sydney Wilkinson, Jennifer Garcia, Tatiana White and Rebecca Nelson are returning veterans from last season as well.”
The coach said all returning players were successful at scoring last year, with Robinson leading the charge with 11 goals and Welch adding 10.
McArthur expects to pick up a few more players once basketball season ends. He said it works out well, considering many basketball players are multi-sport athletes who already are conditioned and easily coached.
“They catch on quickly … they have good foot work and ball sense … they are usually pretty good athletes and fast,” he said.
McArthur said Wayne County is the team to beat and added that Windsor Forest is on their radar. Thomson is a team LCHS has played in the past, and McArthur said he is looking forward to reviving that region rivalry this season.
Marissa McCarthey joins the coaching staff as McArthur’s assistant. McCarthey, who is from Buffalo, New York, has played soccer since she was 5.
“And I was the co-president of the soccer team of my college for our club team at Niagra University,” she said.
McCarthey’s fiancé is stationed at Fort Stewart after they arrived in Liberty County in July. She teaches math at LCHS.