By Michael DelSardo

Barton’s women soccer team has grown familiar with starting the season with a new head coach. Thomas Goines marks the fifth head coach in the last six seasons.

Although Goines is gearing up for his first season at the helm, he has had an advantage, which is the fact that he was hired and has been here training the girls since March.

“The biggest challenge we face is bringing consistency to the women’s soccer program,” Goines said. “The constant change over in staff and players over recent years has made team chemistry and trust tough to come by.”

Despite the fact that the Lady Bulldogs are ranked seventh in the Conference Carolina’s Preseason poll, Goines remains excited about what his team can accomplish.

“I can understand how the conference voting turned out the way it did, with a change in staff and losing some quality players to graduation. That said, we have enough talent and athleticism to find positive results in each of our matches this season,” Goines said.

The Lady Bulldogs return eight players with substantial experience, led by senior midfielder Emily Futrell, who has been named to All-Conference, All-State and All-Region in each of the past two seasons.

Lane Brooks is another All-Conference honoree from a season ago, becoming the first Barton freshman since 2002 to score eight goals in a season. She also added five assists for 21 total points, placing her among the league’s top 10 in all three categories.

“Our returning players have proven to be a resilient and mentally tough group,” Goines said. “I feel that we are strongest through the center of the field, returning two all-conference players in that area of the field always helps.”

According to Goines, even with a strong nucleus of returnees, the Lady Bulldog’s still face a lot of questions marks coming into the season. That will mean that newcomers will be expected to have an immediate impact, despite their lack of experience.

“We are not as deep as I would ideally like to be, in terms of roster depth, therefore, we will need each girl on the team to take on a big role this year in order for us to find success. Unfortunately, we don’t have time for our young players to develop in the short term, so it’s important that every player to be ready from the first game to the last,” Goines said.

With the collaboration of proven stars, returning veterans and young talent, the Lady Bulldog’s will be competitive with a chance to put together a strong conference record.

“All championship runs are a blend of talent, team chemistry and a little bit of luck, Goines said. We have all components for that to happen this year and that’s why we’ve been focusing on building our group mentality and preparation. We can only hope that after all the preparation we have put ourselves in the right position to have the ball bounce our way enough times to be holding a trophy at the end of the season.”