The Jr. Lady Devil soccer team recently concluded the first season of girls’ soccer at Unicoi County Middle School. (Contributed photo)

By Keeli Parkey

The inaugural season is in the books for the Unicoi County Middle School girls’ soccer program.

“I think it ended up being an amazing first year for girls’ soccer,” said Lauren Trivette, Jr. Lady Devil head coach.

The UCMS team was created in order to aid the Unicoi County High School girls’ soccer program.

“The soccer program began this season because they wanted a feeder program for the high school,” Trivette said. “Principal Jordan Simmons and Jason Hensley, the athletic director, realized bringing soccer to the middle school level would prepare them for high school and make it more successful in our county.”

Soccer was a new sport for Trivette, who played sports during her time at UCHS and has coached other middle school sports during her teaching career.

“One big challenge for me was learning the sport,” Trivette said. “Soccer wasn’t an option when I was in high school here, so having to learn a new sport with new rules was a big challenge. It was also a challenge getting girls to play in the beginning, but we ended up having 23 girls.”

With new players and a new program, the emphasis was on the fundamentals of the game, Trivette said.

“We focused a lot on basics this year because there were a lot of girls that had never played soccer,” she added. “We focused on dribbling, the best ways to pass the ball and receive the ball, and ways to find the open spot on offense. Defensively, we focused on coming up on the ball and getting low, finding the best opportunity to kick the ball and making sure we kick far and wide to get it out and down the field.”

Uncertain of how many players they would have, UCMS officials scheduled only six games for the new program. And, while they were winless this season, Trivette said it was still a successful one.

“We ended up 0-6 this year, but there was so much improvement,” she said. “At the beginning of the season, we got beat 11-0 in the first half. We did not know how to defend or how to space out on offense. Our last game, our passing was incredible and we actually scored a goal that wasn’t a penalty kick. We grew closer and they learned to play as a team and I was extremely impressed with their improvement throughout the season.”

Trivette believes the UCMS program will be an asset to its players.

“I feel like they learned the game of soccer and have a good start if they decide to continue their careers,” she said. “Most of them did not know the rules when we first started and now they know the foundations and can build on that as they continue.”

The 2019 UCMS Jr. Lady Devil soccer team included: Madyson Bowling, Addison Huskins, Faith Bennett, Lilly Hopson, Madalin Huskins, Melissa Reynoso, Jasmine Al-Abed, Aguada Sandoval, Sara Thomas, Nikole Swafford, Morgan Mosley, Addison Valentine, Brisa Saldana, Brianna Freeman, Legacee Varney, Janiela Soto,  Karen Montejono, Sophia Powers, Grace Little, Laney Rogers, Abby Petterson, Kinley Carver and Brianna Butler.