During the crazy 2020 school year, every team experienced some level of frustration because of COVID related problems.
The level of frustration for the Greenbrier East girls soccer team was one of the highest.
The Spartans were only able to play 13 regular season games and 10 of them had to be played on the road.
“We had to reschedule a lot of games on Friday to play the following week,” fourth-year Greenbrier East head coach Michael Dotson said.
Unfortunately for ladies from East, that was the mild portion of the frustrations.
“We didn’t get to play any of our sectional games because we had a player test positive which cut our season short. We were missing three girls in the final regular season match against Oak Hill that were being testing. When it came back positive, it shut us down.”
Now the goal for Greenbrier East, according to Dotson, is to make last year a bad distant memory and move forward.
As with most teams, the Spartans will have some holes to fill due to graduation.
Among the losses to graduation was two-time all-state selection, Emma Dotson, the coach’s daughter, who now plays soccer for Nikki Izzo-Brown at West Virginia University.
“The good thing about Emma was she was a coach on the field for us,” Dotson said. “So, a lot of the girls from last year will come in with some level of experience this year.”
While the 2021 roster for the Spartans will have several youngsters, Dotson does have some players coming back that he will count on to lead the team.
“Ashlee Thompson and Haley Christy are both seniors that will be the leaders on the field,” Dotson said. “We also have our goalie back, Larah Ratliff. Last year was her first year, so we are expecting a lot out of her. We will also have freshmen playing in key positions, but they have all worked really hard in the offseason.”
Two of the freshmen that coach Dotson is hoping can ease the load of the returning players are his daughter Caroline Dotson and Ryan White.
“Inexperience will be our biggest challenge this year,” Dotson said. “Some of the ones coming back that have experience will likely have to play different positions.”
Greenbrier East may be short on experience for now, but Dotson feels his team does have some strengths to build upon.
“I think our depth will be really good. I think we can sub in up to seven or eight people and not have the drop-off that we have had in the past. We don’t have one big star, but we do have a well-rounded team,” Dotson said. “I think team chemistry will be one of our biggest strengths. The girls get a long really well. Our coaching staff believes in treating the kids like adults and we expect the same thing back. They respect us, but we are up front with them. We expect certain things from them, and they try to deliver.”
Dotson also feels like the winning tradition that has been established in Fairlea over the years will be a big plus for the Spartans.
“We really push the tradition that we expect to win. We want them to have the attitude that by the time the end of September rolls around, we expect to win,” Dotson said. “We know we will get everybody’s best shot when the sectional rolls around. We try to preach that from day one and the seniors hand that down to the younger players each year. One good thing about soccer is you can wait until the last week of September and early October to be hitting your peak.”