By Angie Brushwood (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Willard, MO – As Coach Tim Magee begins his fifth season with the Willard Lady Tigers, he is ready to improve on last year’s 5-12-1 record. Willard lost to Bolivar 1-0 in district quarterfinals.
The Lady Tigers will have to work hard from the start, as they are down some key players due to relocation and injuries.
Maddy Bouse (sr.) and Jackie Pence (jr.) are both out for the season with knee injuries. Bouse will be signing to play soccer for Evangel next year.
“Maddy and Jackie are not on the field with us this year, but they’ve taken a leadership role in showing up to off-season workouts and helping younger defensive players,” said Magee. “We will be very young and very inexperienced at the varsity level this year. We are down two defenders due to injuries, and our starting center mid moved away.”
The Lady Tigers’ leading scorer Madelyn McClendon (jr.) relocated out of state. With 6 goals and 3 assists, McClendon earned 2nd team All-COC Large.
Losses to graduation are defensive players Kelsie Carroll and Kenzie Thomas, as well as forward Kiera Maples.
Senior Joran Stout-Mitchell returns as goalkeeper, her fourth year as starter at the net. Stout-Mitchell allowed 3.5 goals per game and has 143 saves. She earned 1st team All-COC Large and 1st team All-District last season.
Maddie Keith (jr.) returns on defense. Keith scored the tying goal in last year’s season opener against Rogersville, a game that was called due to a storm.
“Maddie Keith has been one of our leaders in the weight room. She’s in weight class and is lifting and working really hard,” said Magee.
Magee is not discouraged by the loss of valuable players.
“The future is bright. Maddy and Jackie will be helping bring the younger ladies along throughout the season,” said Magee. “We hate that we have lost such cornerstones to our program, but with each misfortune comes opportunity. We have some talented young ladies coming into the program this year, so getting them accustomed to the physicality and speed of the high school game will be of utmost importance.”
Offensive returners include junior Hannah Bird who scored two goals and had one assist last year. Macey Quigg also scored two goals with one assist last season, and Amy Christianson scored one goal.
Magee hopes to see steady growth from the Lady Tigers.
“We need to grow and get better each day at practice and take every game as a learning situation,” said Magee. “We need our younger players to step up and help us improve offense from what we had last year. There’s possibility of having some explosive players up top this year.”
Willard will host Logan-Rogersville on March 20.