TENNERTON – The Buckhannon-Upshur Lady Buc soccer program has had plenty of success under the watchful eye of head coach Jackie Zuliani during her six seasons, but if they are going to find wins this year it’s going to be with just one senior on the roster.
Brooklyn Maxwell is the lone senior on the roster but that hardly means the cupboard is bare for the 2019 Lady Bucs.
The 25-person Lady Buc roster also shows nine juniors, seven sophomores and eight freshman.
The Lady Bucs are coming off of a 13-5-2 season that saw them fall to University in the sectional opener.
Buckhannon-Upshur started their preseason on Monday.
“We are, as always, excited to get the season underway,” remarked Zuliani. “Despite having just the one senior, we have a ton of soccer experience on this team and we want to make this a memorable season. We unfortunately have the strongest section and region in the state to go through on our quest to the state tournament. However, these girls feel it is in our reach and we have the team who can knock off a couple of the AAA powerhouses and keep advancing in the post season. If we can work hard, stay positive and stay together and support each other, anything is possible this season.”
Zuliani is using this first week to see how her team meshes together.
“This first week, we want them to become a team and trust in their teammates, their coaching staff and themselves to make this a memorable season,” explained Zuliani. “We also want them to be in very good physical condition, as well as mentally prepared for a challenging schedule. We will play many of the top AA and AAA teams in the state this year. I scheduled these teams as a challenge to let the girls see who their competition is and who they could face if we can make it to the post season.”
As with any season, the Lady Bucs lost some key players to graduation last season, leaving Zuliani with the opportunity to see who will step up and fill those vacancies.
“We graduated some key players last year,” stated Zuliani. “We will especially be missing Audrey Gaudet as our center back. She was one of the best defenders in the state and it will be tough to replace her, but we have some girls in mind who we feel can grow into that position and are eager to prove themselves as great defenders too. We will build from our defense up and should be a strong team, both defensively and offensively as well. I may switch the formation up to play to our defensive strength, but we will still be looking to score many goals this season. Nothing drastic will change. We still want to get the girls to work on connecting passes to play good possession soccer.”
Zuliani will also use the preseason to see where the best fits are for her players.
“I look at each new season with a clean slate,” explained Zuliani. “Players change, sometimes in a positive way and sometimes they go in the other direction. You have to go into each new season with an open mind and look at your personnel, define each players’ role and figure out how you can build the best team possible.”
Joining Zuliani on the sidelines once again this season will be Sam Nolte beginning his fourth season and Will Squires for his sixth season.
“They both bring so much to our program,” stated Zuliani.
The Lady Bucs will open their season Saturday, Aug. 24 at Parkersburg at 1 p.m.
“This group would do anything to be one of those final four Class AAA teams traveling to Beckley for the state championship in November,” concluded Zuliani.