SOCCER PREVIEW: Copiah Academy Lady Colonels

Coach is counting on team effort in CA girls’ soccer

By James Beasley
Coach Tom Roberson has seen Copiah Academy girls’ soccer make some vast strides during the years he’s been associated with it. Two years ago, the girls failed to win a game. Last year, in Roberson’s first season as head coach, the team went 3-8-1. Now the 43-year-old California native has set a goal for the Lady Colonels to make the playoffs.
He knows that accomplishment will require a total team effort. In fact, that’s what Roberson says is the strength of this year’s squad. “We worked hard on defense last year,” he reported in a recent interview. “This year we’re going to concentrate on improving our offense to match the defense.”
CA will need both phases of the game clicking on all cylinders to be successful in the South District of the MAIS AAA Division II. There they will face Presbyterian Christian, East Rankin, Starkville Academy, and Jackson Prep. Those five MAIS schools are the only ones in the South District that have girls’ varsity soccer teams.
Roberson has a large number of starters returning from last year’s squad: senior stopper Libby Tyson, senior midfielders Joanna Stevens and Alex Jones, sophomore sweeper Shellie Chapa, sophomore fullback Abigail Hynum, sophomore midfielder Kaela Jones, freshman goalkeeper Brooke Walker, and freshman all-purpose player Tori Clement. In addition, sophomore fullback Anna Kate Dickson is back and healthy after missing all of last year due to injury.
According to the coach, CA has a total of 27 players – allowing the school to field both a girls’ varsity team and a junior varsity team for the first time. Others listed on the varsity team include senior Anna McNeill; juniors Lacey Blakeney, Tiffany Ellis, and Sam Miller; and sophomores Katie McKinley, Kayley Patterson, and Anna Lea.
The JV includes junior Erin Deaton; sophomore Ashley Goodson; freshman Anne Caroline Donahoe; 8th-graders Katie Sasser, Lauren Edmonds, Emma Mohawk, Alese Smith, and Anna Marie Stutzman; and 7th-graders Brianna Hynum and Rachel Moore.    
Assisting Roberson will be Ryan Gannoway, who played on the Copiah Academy soccer team when he was a student there. Dalton Taylor and Hudson Poole will serve as managers, and Noah Chapa is listed as the official waterboy.
The team has already faced Manchester Academy in a scrimmage and will host ACCS in a preseason game this Friday at 4:00 PM. The season officially gets underway next Tuesday when the Lady Colonels entertain Presbyterian Christian in a district matchup at 4:00 PM in Gallman.     

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