Leddon leads, Eagles follow: New coach melds returning all-district talent with youth
Tuesday, Sep. 3
Liberty has six players who made the
All-Evergreen District first or second
team last season.
--Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
The phrase, "You need to learn to walk before you can run," covers multiple aspects of life.
But that thought has particular significance when discussing the growth cycle of a youthful athletic squad.
For the 2013 Liberty High field hockey team, youth is an appropriate word. The Eagles demonstrated improvement at the end of last season, but three second-team all-Evergreen District players and others opted not to return this fall.
Those decisions left first-year head coach Ashley Leddon and assistant Ashton Mitchell in a more intensive teaching mode than anticipated.
It should be noted Leddon inherited a nucleus of five returning all-district players to go with her bevy of newbies.
"I'm hoping by the end of the season our stick skills will be better and the freshman girls will be at the same level as the older girls," Leddon said earlier this week.
The two elements may seem simple in nature, but early season attempts to meld a small core of veterans with freshmen who never played less than a month ago is challenging.
"I want the girls to play together as a team. More than anything, I want to see them communicate on the field," Leddon stated.
We have a pretty decent midfield line," the coach responded when asked for her strongest area.
"They don't mind telling the others where to go."
Liberty's 17-girl varsity roster consists of just three seniors to go with eight juniors, four sophomores and two freshman.
The top returning player is junior Savannah Chaffin, a first-team all-Evergreen District honoree in 2012.
The Eagles also have five second-team selections in senior Faith Byars, juniors Anna Stribling and Emily Swartchick and sophomores Bretton Butler and Amanda Harlow.
Senior Brittany Walker is the new goalkeeper.
Sarah Swartchick, Michaela Rodney, Peyton Morris, Krista Jenkins, Taylor Grable, Lindsey Frazier, Megan Faster, Katie Culver, Coley Carpenter and Pearl Browett round out the group.
Liberty commenced regular season play this week with a pair of non-district games. The more recent was a Aug. 28 home contest with King George, a 4-1 loss.
The Eagles struck first, tallying their first score of the season with 16:40 left in the first half on a goal by Harlow.
"I felt amazing," Harlow admitted afterwards.
"Anna (Stribling) made a nice pass. I saw it coming," Harlow continued. "(Then) you have to take your shot."
"I was hoping we had it there," coach Leddon admitted. "I was hoping to ride that high for a while."
Liberty held its lead for the three and one-half minutes until the Foxes scored. The visitors scored again one minute later and added a pair of second-half scores.
"I was hoping we would rally," Leddon said of the second half.
The Eagles Aug. 26 season opener at Chancellor was an impossible task, as the Chargers return 10 starters from the 2012 State Group AA/A unit. Chancellor scored early and often in a 16-0 victory.
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