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SEB opens season today
Lady Jackets hope for trip to state
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    The Southeast Bulloch Lady Yellow Jackets soccer team will return to the field today after a disappointing, yet optimistic finish to the 2006 season.
    With a .500 record last year, the Lady Jackets finished tied for third with Calvary Day, but the tie breaker (goals against) went against SEB and forced them into playing No. 1 seed West Laurens in the first round of the 2006 playoffs. They lost in a heartbreaker 1-0, and ended their chances of a run in the state playoffs.
    “We had a chance,” said SEB soccer coach Aimee Civalier. “We are in a very tough area with Savannah Christian, Savannah Country Day, Calvary Day… those Savannah private schools are very strong in soccer.”
    As an indication of just how difficult SEB’s competition is, Savannah Country Day is the defending Class A State Champion. The SCD Lady Hornets squeaked by Southeast Bulloch 1-0.
    After the tough end to the 2006 season, Civalier is optimistic heading into the new year. While losing two key seniors — key defensive players — due to personal reasons, the Lady Jackets return keeper Kacey Jones, a junior, and her older sister — leading scorer Morgan Jones — who has amassed 67 goals so far in her career at SEB. Morgan will play her senior season before heading to Division I Presbyterian College on scholarship.
    One problem with the season starting so early is the fact that it overlaps with the basketball season. The Lady Yellow Jackets will be without four starters until the conclusion of SEB’s basketball playoff run.
    “That’s going to hurt us a little bit,” said Civalier. “Hopefully we have some younger girls that can fill in those gaps until we get those basketball girls back out there… They push football season back, they push basketball season back, but they didn’t push soccer back. There’s really nothing we can do.”
    Civalier’s goal for her Lady Yellow Jackets is simple: get to the state playoffs.
    “The girls are working hard,” Civalier said. “Our goal is to beat Calvary out for that third place spot. If we can get that, we will play the No. 2 seed, which will give us a better draw to get to the state playoffs.”
    The Lady Yellow Jackets — with some noticeable gaps on their roster — will travel to Liberty County to take on the Lady Panthers today at 5 p.m. They follow that contest by welcoming the Screven County Lady Gamecocks on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

Boys talented, young
    Like the Lady Yellow Jackets, the boys also finished as a .500 team last season, and were knocked out of the tournament by a No. 1 seed (Dublin).
    Head coach David Quattlebaum has some returning talent to help out with the 2007 squad. Seniors Anthony Lynch and Steve Robertson return as leaders for one final season with the Yellow Jackets. There is also some emerging young talent on the squad. Ian and Jordan Foster look to have more of an impact in their sophomore year. Keeper Corey Neetles returns with a year of experience under his belt to defend the Jacket’s goal as a sophomore.
    Like coach Civalier, Quattlebaum feels the toughest competition comes from down in Savannah.
    “Savannah Country Day and Savannah Christian are tough every year, in terms of competition,” said Quattlebaum.
    The team will be fairly inexperienced, but that should not be too much of a hindrance on the Yellow Jackets this year. Quattlebaum remains cautiously optimistic.
    “We’ve got a young team,” he said. “We’ve only got four seniors, but we have a lot of experienced players who are underclassmen. I suspect we are going to have a good season — very competitive. We should (be a .500 team) if not better.”

    Matt Yogus can be reached at 912-489-9404.