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Lady Vols booters off to fast start

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Team earns state ranking

By Robert Howey

The Andrew Jackson Lady Volunteers soccer team is off to its best season ever.

The Lady Vols, at 9-1, are ranked No. 7 in the latest Class AA girls state soccer poll, and with wins over Region IV-AA foe Eau Claire High School have already earned the region title.

The Lady Vols, in their ninth year of soccer at the Lancaster County Class AA school, are led by captains Rachael Dippel, Sydney Hinson and Rebecca Johnson.

Dippel and Hinson are seniors, while Johnson is a sophomore. Johnson, a midfielder, was recently sidelined with a broken collarbone in a match in Sumter County. As a freshman, Johnson was presented the Best Midfielder Award.

Hinson earned the Most Valuable Player Award last season when AJ fashioned a 5-10 mark, which included the Lady Vols’ first-ever home playoff win. Hinson anchors the AJ defense as a four-year starter.

Dippel, a defender, reaped the team’s Best Defender Award last season.

“Our senior leadership is good,” said AJ coach Ronnie Wall. “We’re very strong there.”

The Lady Vols have their share of experience throughout the lineup.

Forwards include juniors Jaime Leigh Johnson and Ashley Beavers along with freshman Leah Kennington. Johnson was named the team’s Best Performer last season.

“Leah really puts a spark into our offense,” Wall said. “She brings out the best in the players around her. Ashley Beavers has improved a great deal and works well with Leah.”

Seniors Brooke Watts and Joanna Croxton anchor the midfield.

Senior Sommer Zusin is at stopper, with Dippel at sweeper. Backs include junior Allison Kelley and sophomore Ashleigh Aiello.

Wall, assisted by Carla Faulkenberry, said the team has quality depth.

Support players at forward are freshmen Tabitha Marody and Kelcey Fletcher.

Midfield depth is provided by junior Emilie Albrecht and sophomores Jordan Truesdale and Katherine Killingsworth.

Junior Brandy Ellis is a returnee at defender where freshman Katy Hinson and Amber Kelley provide depth.

In addition to Wall and Faulkenberry, Danny Kennington serves as the volunteer assistant and freshman Erin Roberts is the student assistant.

“I’m pleased and very excited about the advancement of the girls’ play,” Wall said. “We have some tough matches ahead, including Indian Land. We know they will bring their A game, so we have to keep it going.”