The Upson-Lee Knights soccer team took to the field Wednesday night for the first time this season in a battle with Pike County in the first round of the Lamar County Trojan Cup Invitational. However, the results of the contest were not available by press time.
Last season the Knights competed in what was perhaps the toughest region in the state, with teams such as Whitewater, Starr’s Mill, McIntosh, and Northgate. This season the Knights are in a new region, and according to head coach Matt Bentley, this region will offer some different challenges for a young Knights’ team which he thinks is ready for those challenges.
“We expect this region to be very athletic,” said Bentley. “I think Dutchtown is one of the best teams in the state, and we have some games against our rivals Spalding and Griffin, which should make for some really good games. We are excited to get started in our new region, and we plan on bringing home a fourth Region Championship to the UL soccer program.”
Three teams in the Knights new region had winning records last season and made appearances in the State Playoffs, (Dutchtown, 10-5), Woodland (10-5), and Spalding (13-5). The Knights finished with a 4-11 record last year, suffering a tough season riddled with injuries and the fact the Knights started many freshmen last season. This season those talented freshmen are now sophomores and the strength of the Knights program. Those sophomore include Jake Sayer, Dylan Marshall, Daniel Clements, Turner Price, and Cole Winters.
“We have a very strong core of sophomores,” said Bentley. “Dylan has a year under his belt playing against some of the best defenders in the state. He is bigger, faster, and stronger this year, and we are expecting him to score a lot of goals for Upson-Lee this season. Jake and Daniel will be playing mid-field for us. Both are very good players, and many games this year will be won in the mid-field area. I like our chances with our mid-fielders. Cole and Turner will play on the back line this season. They are a very important to our defense, a defense we are proud of and expect to play well this season. The defensive back line have nicknamed themselves “The Stone Wall”. I also must say how happy I am that we are getting a healthy Chase McGouirk back this season. He should really give us a boost in the mid-field. We also return our keeper Will Eubanks, and he has looked really good in our practices.”
Part of that “Stone Wall” will be the two center backs, which have loads of experience for the Knights. Seniors Joey Knight and Hunter Larson man those positions, and along with forward Levi Ellerbee, they are the three senior Knights which Bentley expects to lead the team on and off the field.
“Our seniors will be our leaders,” said Bentley. “Levi’s athleticism should result in some great scoring opportunities for us, and with Joey and Hunter in the back, our defense will be strong. Those two have a great chemistry together, and we are expecting a big season from all three of our seniors.”
Look in Tuesday’s edition of The Times for the result of the Knights’ game against Pike County.