The Ripley Lady Jays’ soccer season ended in the sectional tournament with a loss to Cincinnati Country Day, but by no means should that one defeat cause the entire season to be labeled anything short of a success.
Head coach Marty Adams said the team performed to his expectations this year and very nearly were better, but they just were not able to get the bounces to go their way at times.
“I’d say we were right where I thought we’d be at the end of the season,” Adams said. “I thought there was a couple games that could have went either way, but that’s the way the ball bounces sometimes. All in all, it was a pretty good season for us. I thought we’d be double-digit wins, we were one short. The girls played well, it’s just the luck of the bounce sometimes. I’m pretty pleased and proud of how everything came out this year.”
Nonetheless, Adams found one moment in the season that stood out for him, not necessarily for the play on the field but what it meant to the person who executed. Kilee Brookbank netted the game-winning goal for the Lady Jays in their matchup against Eastern Brown, a team that advanced to the sectional finals before falling to conference foe Lynchburg. Brookbank’s goal came less than one year after she suffered second-degree burns in a house explosion.
“I think the thing that sticks out, not so much for the team but as an individual, is the goal Kilee Brookbank scored against Eastern,” Adams said. “We beat them in the league of course but for her to come back from what she’d been through and to score that goal late in the game I think is one of those defining moments of the season for her and the team. It kind of got us going offensively, because up to that point offensively we had kind of struggled to score goals.”
The offense may have struggled to score goals, but the defense played to a high level all season thanks in large part to the play of a few individuals Adams noted.
“There were a couple girls,” Adams said. “Kacy Gilkerson, she’s a junior this year and she’s pretty versatile at different positions. I moved her back mostly full-time to the defensive position and she really stepped up her game this year to help Kristing out on the back line. Johanna Fisher, our left end. She’s a little girl but she’s tough as nails. We moved her back to the defensive line a little bit depending on what subs we were bringing in. She’s just tough and as smooth as could be on that left side. She’s left-footed, so she’s comfortable and I’m comfortable with her on that left side. I think that those two girls stick out to me because you take for granted the things those two have done for us.”
The team will look a bit different next year, as five players will depart after graduation. Adams said the importance of those five players cannot be overstated.
“These juniors and seniors have played together since they were 10 years old, and some of them even before that,” Adams said. “They were a big key. They all played different positions, with Lexi on the front line, Kilee on the midfield and Kristin on the back line. Harley Bruce is a junior who’s actually graduating early, she played the sweeper spot for us, which a whole lot of the girls really don’t know that position. Harley did a great job. They’re really key, it’s five girls who are going to be tough to replace next year. They’ve all had great careers here and we’re truly going to miss them, for sure.”