Tigers look to move past loss of three All-County players
All-County POTY Reid out for season with leg injury
The Tigers will have huge cleats to fill this soccer season.
The graduation of a pair of All-County players and the loss of the reigning Player of the Year to an off-season, season-ending injury will force the Rising Sun girls’ soccer team to look to new playmakers if it hopes to recreate the success it experienced last season.
Three-time All-County midfielder Jackie Barbon and four-time All-County defender Valerie Bragg (first team All-Chesapeake) have both departed after standout senior seasons. The Tigers will also have to play the entire year without Teresa Reid, whose senior season has been lost due to a leg injury suffered over the summer during a regional youth developmental program.
The dynamic midfielder was coming off a junior campaign in which she recorded nine goals and seven assists while leading the Rising Sun offense through a challenging Chesapeake Division schedule, earning both firstteam All-Chesapeake Division and All-County Player of the Year.
“That’s a big hit to our team,” Rising Sun coach Dylan Aiman said of Reid. “It’s going to be a tremendous loss. Not just because of her ability—she’s a game changer no-doubt—but her leadership at practice and in games. It’s not the best way to start a season. When you lose one of your best players it’s difficult.”
Last season, the Tigers (84-1) ended with just one win in division but swept their Cecil County opponents, including a shutout over North East in the opening round of the 2A East Region Section I playoffs. Rising Sun later fell to eventual state champion Fallston, 2-1, in the following round, marking the secondstraight year and the third time in the past four postseasons that the Tigers lost to the Cougars in the playoffs.
Aiman will be tasked with rallying the Tigers around a new leadership core and guiding the team once again through the upper division and a tough region.
“I think we’ll still do very well in Cecil County. I think playing in the upper division, conference wise, the Chesapeake is going to be a tough go,” he said. “I think we’ll be competitive.”
Junior midfielder Jackie Ayers, who earned AllCounty honorable mention last season, is expected to take over for Reid as the field general. Meanwhile, junior forward Mikaela Berg, who earned All-County honors in 2015, will slide from forward to defense to take over for Bragg.
“Mikaela is a very, very good player, so as far as that switch goes, we’re giving up the attacking side but we’re certainly solidifying the de- fense,” Aiman said.
Senior Kenze Stockslager will be the starting right back and senior Allison Backert will be the starting left back, giving Rising Sun a trio of veteran players on the back end. They will be joined by sophomore keeper Kira Watson, who earned All-County honors last season.
Senior forwards Jillian Seay and Cassidy Boyd are expected to form the offensive front for the Tigers.
“The goal I think right now is to dominate Cecil County, be competitive in the Chesapeake Division and of course, come playoff time, get as far as we can,” Aiman said. “[Sweeping the county] is something we’ve always hung our hat on and are real proud of. But every year the different [schools] put out quality teams and it’s always a challenge for us.”
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Rising Sun senior Mikaela Berg, left, who earned All-County honors last season at forward, will move to defense in 2016.