Lancaster soccer fans are in for a few changes this season. The program is down in numbers. Therefore, coaches Traci Ford and assistants Rich Ford and Rob Pittman will lead a co-ed varsity team.
The girls program was disbanded because of a lack of participation. And with only two freshmen and four sophomores this season, the junior varsity team was also disbanded.
This year’s varsity team includes six seniors, five juniors, three sophomores, two freshmen and among them are two females.
“For the most part all of them have played together before, either last year or on rec league teams,” said Ford. “Even our freshmen have a lot of playing experience.”
Ford returns to lead the varsity team for her second year. She suits up 11 returners, including all of her sophomores.
Starting forward Prabesh Bhandari leads four senior returners, including starting defender Alex Green and midfielders William Clarke and Michael McGrath. Senior newcomers are Monica Waddy and Haley Pease, who have three years experience playing with the LHS girls team. Both play midfield.
Years ago, Lancaster, along with most of the other Northern Neck District schools, had co-ed soccer programs. It’s just been in the last 10 years that several schools formed female soccer teams.
“Haley and Monica are hard workers and I’m delighted to have them,” said Ford. “In some instances, they condition harder than the boys.”
Also back to play defense are junior Sheridan Ford and sophomores Nicklaus Ford, Thomas Wilson and Kendall Barnhardt.
Returning to midfield/forward are juniors Evan Steensma and Kiran Bhattari.
Freshman Prashes Bhandari will play midfield and freshman Henry Smith forward.
Smith has scored the only goal for LHS this season in a 6-1 loss to Mathews last Friday and has emerged as the team’s leading shooter. Smith took nine shots on goal against the Blue Devils and six in Monday night’s 2-0 loss to Middlesex.
Junior newcomer Logan Cook, who will also start at forward, had three shots against Mathews.
Steensma took five shots against Middlesex and Prab. Bhandari and Clarke had three shots on goal each. Prab. Bhandari took two against Mathews.
Returning to play goalie is junior Nathan Spiers, who had nine saves in the season opener and another six against the Chargers.
Despite Lancaster’s 0-2 start, Ford says she’s optimstic about this season. The talent is there for a successful year.
“Of course, the goal is to make the [tournaments], but really it’s to improve with each game,” she said.
Pittman, who is an assistant golf pro at Indian Creek Yacht and Country Club, will be a key to this year’s success, said Ford.
He recently moved back to the area and is a first year assistant here but brings with him several years of coaching and playing experience.
“Rob brings in a whole new skill set for them,” said Ford.
Lancaster has four road games over the next two weeks and will be back on its home field again April 19 when the Devils host Essex. All of Lancaster’s home games begin at 6 p.m.
- March 31 at Franklin
- April 5 at Rappahannock
- April 7 at Chincoteague
- April 19 Essex
- April 26 Washington & Lee
- April 28 at Northumberland
- May 3 Rappahannock
- May 5 at Essex
- May 12 at Washington & Lee
- May 17 Northumberland