Veteran coach Manning to lead Spring Hill Lady Panthers in first UIL soccer campaign
Jan. 10, 2013 at 10 p.m.
Spring Hill isn't new to soccer, but the program is embarking on a new challenge for the 2013 season by playing a University Interscholastic League schedule for the first time.
For the Spring Hill Lady Panthers, that journey will begin with a well-known face on the sidelines.
Jim Manning, who started the soccer program at Longview High School back in 1983, started soccer at Chapel Hill and has made coaching stops in Marshall, Kilgore, Lake Travis, Pine Tree and Hallsville, takes over a Lady Panther squad that opens the 2013 season today.
Spring Hill will face Texas High at 12:30 and Athens at 5 p.m. in the Palestine Invitational, and then take on the Palestine JV at 8 a.m. Saturday.
Twelve players return for Spring Hill from a program that played a "club" schedule for two seasons. A total of 16 players make up the roster - two seniors, two juniors, seven sophomores and five freshmen.
"These kids can play," Manning said. "They have a club background, and we have a good number of players returning, so we're not high and dry."
Manning said the Lady Panthers must take small steps first as they prepare for their first season of UIL competition.
"One of our goals is to get that first win. Everything is new," Manning said. "We scrimmagedPleasant Grove (Tuesday), and our goals were to score and to have a shutout. We didn't do either, but at least we set a goal and you have to start somewhere."
Following this weekend's tournament action, Spring Hill hosts Palestine on Jan. 15, visits Texas High on Jan. 18 and Tatum on Jan. 22 and then will participate in the Longview Tournament on Jan. 24-26. After an idle week, Spring Hill will open district play Feb. 5 at Carthage.
Spring Hill will compete in a district with Carthage, Hallsville, Henderson, Kilgore, Marshall and Pine Tree.
"We were very competitive against Pleasant Grove in our scrimmage," Manning said. "We lost 2-0, but we were in the game the whole time. The key is to get consistently better."
The Lady Panther roster includes seniors Savannah Page and Mikayla Soliz; juniors Tessa Murray and Anne Tadlock; sophomores Mara Barnette, Sofia Hadley, Anna Harper, Kristen Martins, Abbye Hicks, Michaela Newby and Melissa Palencia; and freshmen Camie Copeland, Melissa Khatry, Destiny Walker, Savannah Wulbrecht and Tara Pleasant.
(Follow Jack Stallard on Twitter @lnjsports)