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Soccer teams prep for tournament

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By Matt Birkholtz

The Grant County soccer teams will be getting ready for the Dry Ridge Toyota Classic Sept. 17 at Grant County Middle School.

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But, for both the Lady Braves and Braves, the past week has seen some struggles.

On Sept. 9, the girls traveled to Covington to face Calvary Christian and for the first time this season, the Lady Braves left a game without a win.

“I definitely think as a team this was one of our games where we saw the most struggle with teamwork and not meshing together,” Boone said. “We had a couple of conflicts between players and that didn’t really help us. Another thing is that five of our girls play select soccer and Calvary Christian’s coach is their coach for select. He knows those girls like the back of his hand. Mollie Pelfrey got frustrated because he put a shadow on her and that  didn’t help her as much.”

With those conflicts, Boone said she was going to have a meeting with the players on Sept. 12.

“We are going to spend time in the locker room talking about what we respect about each other and how we can get through games where we are the underdog, to be able to believe in ourselves and win those games,” she said.’

The first game starts at 8 a.m. with Pendleton County facing Bishop Brossart.

In game two, the Lady Braves will face Carroll County at approximately 9:45 a.m. The winner of the first two games will play in the championship game at 6:30 p.m., with the losers of the two games, playing in a consolation game at 3 p.m.

With those gaps in the schedule either way, Lady Braves coach Sarah Boone will be prepping the girls with two games this week before two games in one day.

“I think keeping their minds focused in between the games and the whole day, by getting enough sleep and eating healthy,” Boone said. “I really feel like playing two games in one day isn’t going to be impossible for them and if they stay focused we are going to be fine.”

Senior Emily Tillman said she is anxious to play in the tournament, but at the same time wishes it wasn’t this weekend.

“I don’t want this season to go by fast and it is right now,” she said.

Boone said Tillman has been an integral part of the soccer team this season for her leadership not only on the bench, but also on the field.

“I totally respect her. She has such a great attitude,” Boone said. “I wish I could replicate her. She is a senior and is a positive girl. I have played on teams before where the seniors were the boss and controlled the other players. Emily is the one getting the water for the other players and serves her teammates and that translates on the field. She isn’t a ball hog on the field and will do anything to get the ball, even if that means sacrificing her body.”

Braves Soccer

For the Grant County Braves soccer team, the boys’ came off one of their worst defeats of the season, losing to Pendleton County 8-0.

“That is a tough game. Anytime you have a game like that it is rough on the guys,” coach David Schmitt said. “What we have to do now is focus on what we did wrong, but also what we did right in that game. The truth is the vast majority of the damage from Pendleton County was done in the last 20 minutes of the first half. We hung in tight with them the first 20 minutes and had some chances and we got unlucky on their first goal bouncing off of Eddie Maya’s thigh and it wasn’t his fault or Jordan Kearns’ fault. It is just one of those things that happens in a soccer game and it just knocked the wind out of us.”

With the loss, Schmitt said even with the six goals allowed in the last 20 minutes of the first half, he said the team should look more at the positives of the game.

“We got to be real physical, which you have to do against Pendleton County. You just have to look at those positives and build towards something better instead of just looking at a bad 20 minutes,” he said.

With the game in the past, Schmitt is preparing the Braves for four games this week including the two in the Dry Ridge Toyota Classic.

For the Braves on Sept. 13, they got to see their first round opponent, Villa Madonna and with that vantage point, will be able to analyze what they did right and wrong and fix it before Saturday.

“We play Villa Madonna twice and whatever we do wrong in the first game, we correct for the tournament and take care of ourselves and just play some soccer,” senior Brian Chapman said.

Schmitt has liked what he has seen from Chapman, being one of three captains on a team that lost 11 seniors and eight starters from last season.

“He is a strong leader on the field, but sometimes I feel he tries to do too much on the field and gets himself worn out,” Schmitt said.

With the tournament games being hours apart from each other, Schmitt will take the necessary precautions with his players.

“We need to be smart how we use that time,” he said. “The most important thing is to get everyone hydrated and get those electrolytes back in their system. Also, they will need to eat right and get some carbohydrates in them as well. Then, if the weather is cooperating, I will have them stay for the first half of the Conner vs. Dixie game, so we can see which opponent they will most likely be facing. As we do our re-hydration I will have them watch that game.”

Tickets for the Dry Ridge Toyota Classic are good for the whole day and cost $5 for adults and $3 for students.