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High hopes for Lady Devils on the soccer field

Savannah Christian at Lady Blue Devils
5:30 p.m., Today
Womack Field

    When the Statesboro girls hit the field this evening to kick off their 2013 campaign against Savannah Christian, they’ll bring with them a wealth of talent and lofty expectations.
    Armed with a slew of returning talent, the Lady Blue Devils are looking to take the next step after coming up short in the region playoffs last season.
    “We just sat down and talked about our goals for the season the other day,” SHS coach Brian Thomas said. “One thing that all of our seniors said that they wanted was a region championship. They’ve helped this program succeed since they’ve been here, so that would definitely be a great way to finish things off for them.”
    Winning a region championship in any season is a difficult task, but this year seems to set up well for Statesboro.
    Wayne County — which knocked off the Devils in last year’s postseason —remains a big threat in sub-region play, but region realignment has made things a bit easier this time around. Gone are former region foes such as Lakeside of Evans and Greenbrier which have topped the standings in the previous two seasons.
    “There is still going to be plenty of competition,” Thomas said. “And we’ve scheduled Lakeside to get that challenge. But it will definitely be nice to play teams that don’t have a few hundred more students to pull from.”
    Statesboro can look forward to a high-powered attack this season as 2012 leading scorer Tori Thompson returns along with Chelsea Wilson and Reagan Thomas.
    Thompson and Wilson provide plenty of speed up the sidelines while Reagan Thomas burst onto the scene as a freshman last season to contribute some highlight reel goals.
    Brian Thomas hopes that his talented forwards and a midfield that will be bolstered by the return of Emiline Sisson — who missed the 2012 season with an injury — will keep early pressure away from the back lines.
    Senior Sarah Brown is fully recovered from a knee injury that cost her last fall’s softball season and will lead the way for a pair of new defenders.
    Junior Destiny Lanier will take over the starting spot in goal, replacing Makayla Patterson, who garnered All-Region status as a senior last year.
    “I have a lot of confidence in our defense,” Brian Thomas said. “But that’s definitely something that I want to see some improvement on early in the season as everyone settles in.”
    Also on the early checklist is to work on possessing the ball. Statesboro’s quick strikes devastated some opponents last season, but weren’t enough to overcome the top teams in the region.
    “That’s part of the next step,” Brian Thomas said. “If we want to beat those top teams, we need to control the ball and control the game. If we can do that, I’m pretty confident in our ability to do all of the things we want.”

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.