PIQUA — Sidney’s girls soccer team is still young, but the squad is maturing fast.
With a host of talented freshmen helping to boost returning players, the Yellow Jackets are hoping they’re back in championship form this year.
Sidney crushed archrival Piqua 10-0 in a Miami Valley League crossover game on Wednesday at Wertz Stadium to improve to 4-1-0 overall and 2-0 in league play. It’s the fourth consecutive win for the squad following a 4-0 loss to Springboro to open the season.
Sidney has earned 12 wins or more in six of the last eight years and several league titles, including the overall MVL title last year.
But while the Yellow Jackets tied with Tippecanoe for the overall MVL title a year ago, they finished 8-9-1 overall, which was the program’s first below-.500 season since 2006.
The Jackets’ 2021 campaign came to a close with a 1-0 loss to MVL rival Vandalia-Butler — which they had beaten 3-0 earlier in the season.
Sidney was extremely young last year after heavy graduation losses from a 13-2-2 campaign in 2020. While the roster is still full of underclassmen, sixth-year coach Kevin Veroneau said the returnees’ experience is showing.
And a talented group of freshmen has helped boost the squad as well.
“They’re high-quality players, and they’re pushing the returning players,” Veroneau said of the freshmen. “The level of intensity in the practices and in games is completely and totally different from last year.
“They saw that Butler beat (Piqua) 10-0 (on Aug. 24). They wanted to respond to that. So it took us a little longer than we thought to get to 10 goals tonight, but they pushed through and they were able to get there.”
Freshman forward Kenzie Koester has scored four goals through five games while freshman forward Katie McKinney has scored three goals and ranks second among MVL players with five assists to her credit. Freshman defender Hayden McVety has scored two goals and freshman goalkeeper Madison Piatt has 12 saves to her credit.
The squad has several returnees who have been big contributors, including sophomore forward Larkyn Vordemark and junior forward Kyleigh Spade.
Spade has scored four goals and leads the MVL with six assists to her credit. Vordemark has scored an MVL-best nine goals and has four assists.
Vordemark led the squad with 13 goals last season. At her current pace, she’ll surpass that total before this season’s midpoint.
“Some players didn’t perform well last year, and it’s not sitting well with them,” Veroneau said. “Larkyn knows. The MVP of the league had 19 goals last year, and Larkyn had 13, and Larkyn knows she wasn’t even trying that hard to get to that. This year, she is very motivated and driven. She wants records, she wants awards.”
Senior defender Lainie Fair and junior defender Kimora Johnson have led Sidney’s defense and have proven tough for opponents to get by.
Both are offensive threats as well when needed.
“They’ve been back there together for three years, so they’ve built up a lot of trust in each other,” Veroneau said. “You saw tonight. When Lainie went forward, Kimora was holding down the fort, and when Kimora went forward, Lainie was holding the fort. They trust each other. Both of them went forward great today.”
Vordemark, McKinney and Koester each scored goals to put Sidney ahead 3-0 in the first 25 minutes of the first half, then Johnson kicked a long shot that rolled by Piqua goalkeeper D’Vaya Cooper for a goal to push the lead to 4-0 at halftime.
Fair scored one goal off a corner kick in the second half, and Johnson added another goal on a long shot.
“Kimora has just a rifle of a shot and a cross,” Veroneau said. “Get here near the goal, and she’s going to put it on frame. You saw that today. That’s a big strength of hers. Lainie’s strength is her head. Every time there’s a corner kick, she’s going to head it.
“It’s almost like a competition between those two. Lainie’s trying to head them in and Kimora’s trying to drive them in. It was sort of fun to watch.”
Sidney struggled in a preseason scrimmage at Centerville, which advanced to a Division I state semifinal last year. The squad tied Fairmont in a scrimmage, then lost 4-0 to Springboro in a season opener on Aug. 12.
The Yellow Jackets beat Northmont 3-2 on Aug. 17 and have blasted three straight MVL opponents since by a combined total of 24-0.
“Everyone has stepped it up,” Veroneau said. “All the returning players have stepped it up with the freshmen pushing them, and the freshmen are doing really well. Every position, players have raised their game. It’s showing in how they’re playing.”
Vordemark finished with three goals and two assists on Wednesday. Johnson finished with two goals and two assists. Spade and Koester each scored one goal and had two assists. McVety and McKinney each scored one goal and had one assist. Fair finished with one goal. Freshman Kaylee Morgan played at goalkeeper and had three saves.
The Yellow Jackets have two more nonconference games left against Greater Western Ohio Conference schools in Miamisburg and Beavercreek and will also host Dublin Coffman in a nonconference match later this month.
Their next scheduled game is a home MVL contest against Stebbins on Sept. 7. They’re scheduled to host Butler (4-0) in a key early-season MVL game on Sept. 14.
Lehman Catholic off to 2-1 start, including win over Anna
The Cavaliers lost their season opener 5-0 at Oakwood on Aug. 17 but bounced back by beating Milton-Union 1-0 in a Three Rivers Conference game on Aug. 25, then beat rival Anna 2-1 on Aug. 27.
The Rockets and Cavaliers battled it out in the Western Ohio Soccer League from 2014 until Lehman left for the TRC last year, with the winner often earning the league title. Anna beat Lehman in WOSL games in 2017, 2018 and 2019 before losing in 2020. The squads tied 1-1 in a nonconference game last year.
Sophomore goalkeeper Callie Giguere has recorded 33 saves across the three games.
Lehman, which has a strong corps back from last year’s 13-4-2 campaign, was scheduled to travel to Newton (3-1) on Thursday.
Anna drops to 1-2 after close loss
The Rockets are dealing with injuries early in the season. They opened with a 3-0 win at Springfield Catholic Central on Aug. 23 but then fell 2-1 to Lehman on Aug. 27 and lost 1-0 at Miami East on Tuesday.
The Rockets, which won their fourth WOSL title in five years last season, were scheduled to host Kenton on Thursday. They’ve yet to play a league game this season.
Botkins has early lead in WOSL standings
While some WOSL teams have yet to play a league game yet, Botkins has an early lead in conference standings.
The Trojans (3-1-0) lost a heartbreaker to Miami East in a season opener on Aug. 20. The Vikings rallied to tie it late, then scored on an own goal on a penalty kick with four seconds left to win 4-3.
But Botkins beat St. Paris Graham 3-1 on Aug. 23 and followed with a 7-2 WOSL win over Delphos St. John’s on Aug. 25 and a 6-1 WOSL win over Coldwater on Tuesday.
Camdyn Paul has scored nine goals through the four games and has four assists while Addison Blindauer has scored five goals and has four assists. Delana Pitts has scored three goals.
Freshman goalkeeper Delaney Manger has 26 saves to her credit.
The Trojans are scheduled to return to action on Tuesday by traveling to South Charleston Southeastern.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.