To say Ripley’s girls soccer season of 2017 was full of accomplishments would be a vast understatement.
Hold onto your seat, but here is just a sampling of what the Lady Vikings did a year ago:
-A school-best 17 wins
-Just two losses, the fewest-ever in a season
-A school record 11-game winning streak
-First-ever wins over Hurricane, George Washington, Charleston Catholic and Parkersburg South
-A Mountain State Athletic Conference title (in its last year as a league member)
-Hosting a battle of No. 1 teams (Ripley No. 1 in AAA vs. Charleston Catholic No. 1 in AA)
-Allowing just seven goals (the least in a season)
-The most shutouts in a campaign (15)
-Conceded just 83 shots (the fewest in a season)
-The most goals in a season (78)
-The most goals in a game (15)
-Winners of the Pete Whitaker Sportsmanship Award.
Now that you have caught your breath, the Lady Vikings have set out for bigger and better this season.
“We are looking to build off last season’s success,” said Stephen Gandee, who couldn’t have asked for much more in his first season as Ripley’s head coach. “We need to work on the items which plague us at this time of year; conditioning & technical skills. We’re building a system of play which I think will be difficult to contain.”
Ripley returns a bevy of talented players, including a pair of Class AAA First Team All-Staters in Olivia Gandee, a Division I recruit, and Taylor Kennedy. Gandee, a junior, is a midfielder. She is the head coach’s daughter.
Kennedy was the Lady Vikings’ valuable keeper a year ago and is back for what Gandee hopes will be a big senior season.
The senior class will also include forward McKenzie Gillispie, who a year ago earned Honorable Mention in the All-State balloting.
Also ready for big contributions as seniors are Allison Knox, Cassidy Miller and Naudia Morrison.
Another junior returning who picked up postseason accolades in the All-State voting is Gracie Smith, a Second Team pick.
The junior class is stocked full of talent with the likes of Olivia Broom, Regan Carpenter, Sydni Cunningham and Aynzil Parsons.
The sophomores are Ashley Craigo, Aubree Flint, Laney Harper and Grace Walsh. The freshmen are Mia Casto, Kaitlyn Lawrence, Selah Stephens and Elizabeth Williams.
“I’ve been impressed with our freshman and sophomores,” said Gandee. “They have worked hard and I’ve seen improvements from the three-week June workouts. We have some young players which can add quality depth.”
While Ripley’s season was full of highs, it did come to a close in heartbreaking fashion as Parkersburg South sidelined the Lady Vikings from the postseason with a sectional victory at Memorial Stadium.
But Gandee and company have put that in the rearview mirror and are ready to take the program to yet another level.
“We have two captains at this point- Mackenzie Gillispie and Taylor Kennedy. Two players that I’m very proud of with their high school and club accomplishments,” Gandee said. “I know their leadership will be vital to our success this season. I think we are poised to have a great season.”