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August 14, 2013

H.S. GIRLS' SOCCER PREVIEW: Pioneers have new group of stars but same expectations 

Providence should battle Floyd, New Albany for sectional supremacy

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Over the past couple of seasons, Providence has had veterans who have led the Pioneers to back-to-back Class A state championship appearances.

All the while, the young talent was contributing in minor roles.

Players like Jordan Reger, Alyssa Jones and Sarah Posante have taken a back seat to Casey Marlin, Leah Mattingly and the Providence leaders in the past.

Now it’s their turn.

“They had the luxury or the good fortune to learn from some tremendous examples,” Providence coach Dave Smith said. “It remains to be seen how that will pan out on the field, but I have confidence in these young kids. I guarantee you this group will compete.”

Reger, Jones and Posante, who are all juniors, are joined by seniors Rachel Wells and Katelyn Koopman and goalkeeper Autumn Meyer, who has signed to play at IUPUI following her senior season, to form what should be another formidable Pioneer squad.

“We expect to compete in every match,” Smith said. “Our primary objectives are to challenge ourselves every day, to reach our potential as a team, and to always have fun.”

Along with losing Mattingly, who was the 2012 News and Tribune Player of the Year, the Pioneers also will have to replace graduates Erin Duncan, Katie Barron and Maryashley Betz. Kasey Wallace, who scored a team-high 17 goals as a junior last season, also is out for the season with an injury.

Providence has a tough schedule again in 2013, including tilts against local powers Floyd Central and New Albany, state powers Guerin Catholic, Lawrenceburg and New Castle, and Louisville powerhouses Manual, North Oldham, Mercy Academy and Christian Academy.

“If we can survive the regular season, we should be well-prepared for October,” Smith said of the postseason.

Of course, the biggest news is the postseason ahead for Providence. After winning the Class A state title in 2011 and being Class A state runners-up a year ago, the Pioneers move up to Class 2A due to the IHSAA’s new success factor point system.

“I would say that the vision and the expectations the last two years were more on a regional or state scale because we felt like we could go deep in the tournament, and as it turned out, we did,” Smith said. “This year, certainly our expectation is still to win a sectional. To do that against the competition we have here locally would be a great achievement than the sectionals we’ve won the last two years.

“It’s different than the last two years. But with that said, it’s the same as it was the decade-plus before that. So it’s not insurmountable odds, but we know it’s going to be tougher.”

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