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Jan. 26 — After a breakout season a year ago, the 2023 campaign is one of transition for Cherokee Bluff’s women’s soccer program, and is also believed to be on the brink of the next level.

It can be a little confusing, but Lady Bears coach Calvin Cook has an easier way to make sense of the situation.

“We only lost three players (from last season’s team) and three girls from the first year of school[whenitopenedinthe2018-19schoolyear],” he said. Cook explained. “They’ve been with us for four years and some of them were captains. They’re a big loss, but we’ve played minutes before and we’re filling those shoes.” We have a lot of players ready and we are very good.

“This is my fifth year, and when I started[when I started the program]I wanted to be in contention for the championship by year four, and I was able to do that.” Moving to 4A… we’re trying to achieve the same thing.”

In fact, everyone involved in the Cherokee Bluff program has plenty of good reason to believe that this year’s team’s move up to 4A will help them achieve that goal.

Mainly because of the return of a number of players from a team that had the best season in the program’s short history, with an 18-4 record, a 7-win 3A regional win and a Class 3A semi-final appearance. That’s it.

This group includes four players selected to GeorgiaHighSchoolSoccer.com’s preseason 4A all-state team. Junior forward Kaitlyn Cook was selected for the first team, junior Anna Gesner in midfield, Carson Demers in defense and Avery Fowler in senior goalkeeper.

After leading the team with 35 goals a year ago, Kaitlyn Cook is sure to be a big piece back in the puzzle this season.

But she’s not alone. Several other offensive weapons have also returned from a team that scored 132 goals in the season, averaging six goals per game.

“Caitlin was a big part of[the team’s scoring]but there were about 10 players who scored multiple goals, including four girls who scored 20 goals.” ) I’m aiming for 100 goals, so she’s definitely scored a lot in the last few years.”

The Lady Bears also played solid defense for most of last season, but Calvin Cook looks to the mid- and rear-end of the alignment as perhaps the most important key offerings this spring.

It’s not that he thinks his defense didn’t work out, but he knows his team has already demonstrated their ability to put goals on the scoreboard.

Now is the time to show that they can become a more balanced team, and to that end, he expects leaders like Dimmers, Gessner, and Fowler to strengthen their defensive units.

“We want to add defense (to the team’s strengths) this year,” Calvin Cook said. “There are (a few) seniors in the back (row), including our goalkeeper. They took years to mature. They got bigger, stronger, faster. They Ready to move on to the next level.

“Carson’s going to play on defense. Maybe he’ll lead the defense as captain this year. And then… Anna is the team leader in the middle of the defensive mid. She’s really the glue that holds it all together. She’s back from a very strong (sophomore) year last year, and (Fowler) is a senior this year. ….so we want to be a complete team.”

As strong as the Lady Bears hope to be next season, Calvin Cook also knows he needs some challenges to take the next step. A year ago in the state playoff team, and in the North Hall, the GeorgiaHighSchoolSoccer.com preseason Allstate selection features two of first team senior defender Paola Alvarez and honorable sophomore midfielder Brooklyn Green. increase.

However, teams from outside the county, notably state 4A semifinalist North Oconee, 4A state quarterfinalist Madison County, and 3A playoff team East Forsyth, only deepen the pool of contenders in the region.

And that group doesn’t include the other top state-level contenders that Cherokee Bluff is trying to beat.

“North Oconee have only lost one game in the last two years,” Calvin Cook said. “[The defending 4A state champions]Westminster will be there. Then you have Lovett and Holy Innocents and Pace Academy. So we’re going to beat the likes of them going to the playoffs.”

In the rest of Hall County, the Flowery Branch looks set to dominate in Class 5A after being promoted from 4A last year.

Lakeview Academy is looking to continue its success after moving to the GIAA this season and making the Class A (Private) State playoffs at GHSA last year, but it wouldn’t be without last year’s Times Girls Athlete of the Year Millie Filson. You have to. , graduated and is currently playing for Georgia.

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