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Bardstown had a disappointing regular season in 2013, but the Tigers caught fire in the postseason, when it matters most.
They’re looking to carry that momentum over, and would love to build on the energy that this year’s team possesses.
The Tigers knocked off the district’s top seed Thomas Nelson in the opening round of postseason play last fall, and narrowly missed making it to the region championship game, falling in the semifinals to Central Hardin in a shootout.
“We’ll have a young team, but they are very energetic,” coach Martin Bodkin said. “It may be a challenge for me, but they have already shown the ability to learn quickly. So far, they are playing some good level club soccer.”
The Tigers will look to be starting at least five freshmen, and building a fresh foundation may prove a successful antidote.
“We don’t have a lot of speed, and we’re not lightning quick, but we are very athletic all over the field,” he said. “We’re not as deep as we were in previous years, but we may be as good as we were in prior years. We just need to play the game with confidence.”
Bardstown went 6-13 a year ago, notching five of those wins in the final month of the season, and is coming off a good offseason.
“We will have about four seniors, and they will need to lead these young freshmen,” Bodkin said.
One of those seniors will be speedy midfielder Emma Cecil, and she will need to take on a larger role after the graduation of seven seniors from last season.
“I think we should still do pretty well, even though we will have a young team,” Cecil said. “We had a strong camp outing, and it was very informative and it provided a lot of information for us all. Our passing the ball will be a focus for us this year, as I believe we can be a pretty good offensive team, but our younger players will need to really step up.”
Senior Sarah Hamilton and sophomore Sarah Kahleifeh are experienced returnees.
Soccer is a game of displaying strengths and weaknesses, and according to senior defender Katie Sidebottom, defense should be one of the Tigers’ strong suits.
“It will take a team effort, and we will face a lot of pressure on defense, but we should do alright,” Sidebottom said. “We will have to trust our goalkeeper to keep them out of the net, but I look for us to really pick it up with all the young talent we have coming up.”
Junior Haley Harned, who was strong in goal down the stretch for the Tigers, returns.
The Tigers will kick off their season Monday with a visit to Meade County.
“I’m looking for a good season, and when the district comes around, anybody can beat anybody,” Bodkin said. “If you’re looking ahead on the season, Bethlehem has a lot of seniors, but anyone can win the (district), this year. It’s truly anyone’s game. I am just wanting us to improve during the season. That’s why we play the games.”