Sending signals to regional foes

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By John Shindlebower

The Spencer County Lady Bears soccer program is making some noise this season but they won’t be content until they make their mark.

That mark may come in the form of records, as in the number of wins in a season, scoring 100 goals in the regular season, or advancing in the playoffs. But the biggest accomplishment has already been achieved, and that’s sending a message to the rest of the 8th region that Spencer County is ready to join the ranks of the elite.

Beginning play this week, the Lady Bears are 10-5 on the season, just one win away from securing the most wins in the program’s history and only the second winning record ever. They’ve scored 90 goals through 15 games, no other team in the region has scored more than 64.

But first year head coach Charles Traughber said the Lady Bears aren’t finished blazing new trails and they won’t be happy until they’re mentioned as contenders for state titles.

“My goal is to win a state championship and develop a program that competes for that title each year,” he said. In other words, Traughber wants to turn Spencer County into a girls’ soccer power and judging from the success this year, it’s a plausible notion.

In years past, Spencer County was often looked upon by rivals as an easy win, and by powers like the Oldham County schools, they were viewed as really easy wins. More often than not, Spencer County would be shut out or mercy-ruled in those games, but this season, the tide is turning.

“One of the things I am stressing to the girls is that we really aren’t far from being able to beat some of these teams,” he said. The girls’ improved play isn’t just obvious to Traughber, but other coaches in the region have relayed to him that this year’s Spencer County team is not like previous Lady Bear squads.

Boding well for the future is that this is a team, that while it has some valuable upper class players, relies heavily on a very talented freshmen class.

The youngsters came to the program with years of experience in the recreational league level, and more importantly, said Traughber, the club level.

“This year we were very fortunate that a group of parents realized the importance of playing year-round and for the last few years have had their daughters playing in local clubs,” he said.

Those freshmen joined a smaller group of juniors and seniors, a few of whom also have club experience, and the change has been dramatic.

Traughber said for the upward trend to continue, younger players will need to take advantage of an improved rec league in the county and club soccer all year around. He said that will ensure “a pipeline that brings quality players into the program each year.”

Traughber said the ability to play so many of his younger players so much at the varsity level will pay dividends in coming seasons and the progress made this year should continue next year.

But while talk of the future may be exciting, it’s important not to overlook what could be accomplished this season.

Traughber has his eyes set on finishing the year well and heading into the playoffs with the confidence that Spencer County is no longer an automatic win.

Last week, the Spencer County girls split two games, one of which was against powerful South Oldham. It was a disappointing game for Traughber and his girls as they fell 5-0.

However, they bounced back Friday with an 11-2 victory over Holy Cross.

What pleased Traughber most in this game was the unselfish play of his girls and their willingness to look for the extra pass.

Scoring for the Lady Bears against Holy Cross included three goals by Madison Ratchford, two each by Tori Palmer and Hannah Jaggers, and one goal each by Shelby Lurie, Libby Cox, Paige Wimsatt and Jacqui Jones.

The girls will close out with three games on the road, including a game at Southern on Saturday, at Marion County next Monday and at Henry County next Thursday. But tonight, the girls will bid farewell to their seniors in a home game against Bullitt Central.

The seniors will leave knowing they helped the program turn the corner, and those returning will take up the challenge of climbing to new heights

Traughber said reaching those new heights will depend on the pipeline of younger players.

“We have some more freshmen coming in next year that are currently playing club soccer, but the key to our success will be to say that every year.”