A rollercoaster ride of a season is often part of being a young team. That’s exactly what the Thompson High girls soccer team is going through, a year after graduating seven seniors.
“We have a lot of young players, who are really stepping up and starting to play pretty well,” said Thompson head coach Nathan Button. “We’ve got nine freshmen and sophomores. We have a freshman who starts in back and a sophomore who starts in goal, who was out all last season with an injury. We have another freshmen who comes in off the bench and gives us a lot of minutes. We’re very fortunate that these younger kids are coming on so strong.”
While that may be true, one of the Warriors unquestioned leaders is senior Mel Brannon. Brannon, who signed a scholarship with UAH just before the season began, makes the Warriors offense tick.
“She is kind of playing in the space between their defenders and the midfielders,” Button said. “She’s very, very creative and crafty on the ball. I think we’ve scored in all of our games but one. She a big component of us being creative in the attack and being able to go forward.”
Two other seniors – Peyton Poe and Emma Mayer - and junior Emma Brown are integral to the Warriors. Poe, a University of Auburn-Montgomery commitment, keeps the defense organized and helps find Brannon from her center-midfield spot. Mayer has bounced back and forth from a couple positions, partly because Brown is fighting through an injury.
“Emma Brown, she’s got a strained ligament in her foot and, yet, she’s still playing fantastic at center back,” Button said. “She’s being doing a really good job, controlling the defense and getting a lot of the younger players where they need to be.”
One of the key youngster is sophomore goalkeeper Chloe Sims.
“She had a real shaky start,” Button said. “I think she was still struggling from the injury she had in club, over a year ago. Her past couple of games has been fantastic. She’s getting better and better every game, her confidence is building, too.”
A pair of freshmen playing a key role are Mya Reliford and Mary Paige McDonald. Reliford is a starter at either outside back or center back, depending on if Brown is available.
“She went from the middle school team as an eighth grader, jumped past JV, went straight to varsity and became a starter,” Button said. “She’s another one of those who just can’t get enough competition, she just thrives on it.”
McDonald also plays a vital role.
“Coming into the season, I really thought she’d get some minutes, but, she’s now our first person off the bench, when we need somebody,” Button said. “That’s huge for her, to be a freshman.”
The Warriors are 3-6-1 overall and dropped their area opener to Vestavia Hills last week. The Warriors have another big area game on Friday when Hoover visits.