A record number of the area’s players start their collegiate soccer careers this month.
Floyd Central girls’ graduates account for a large chunk of those carrying on their soccer careers, with no fewer than six playing college ball this fall.
One of them, Loryn Queen, has already gotten off to a flyer, scoring in her very first game for Division I outfit University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
In the Lady Mocs’ 6-0 win over cross-town rival Tennessee Temple last week, Queen started off her college career in midfield, where she chipped in with an assist, before scoring when moved up front.
“I am loving it so far,” said Queen, who was leading scorer for the Highlanders last year with 16 goals. “It’s a great challenge and it has pushed me to become more mature with the game. The coaches and upperclassmen have made being away from home much easier.”
It also helps that her old Javanon club teammate Logan Higgins from Assumption joins her on the program, while on the academic side, having a great physical therapy course was a great pull.
“And after visiting the school, I chose UTC because of the beautiful campus, the coaches and the players. They were all so welcoming I felt right at home,” said Queen.
Casey Marlin, Providence’s all-time highest career scorer with 95 goals, has chosen to study and play soccer at Lenoir-Rhyne University, located in Hickory, North Carolina.
The program, part of the South Atlantic Conference, is coming off back-to-back regular-season championships, as well and subsequent berths in the NCAA Division II national tournament.
The Bears are ranked ninth in the country preseason and much is expected of the team under new coach Cally Morrill.
Marlin said Lenoir-Rhyne, while having a successful soccer program, also has a sense of community that appealed to her.
“I think it is a challenge to be seven hours away from home with people I don’t know in an area I’m not familiar with, but I think it will be a great growing and learning experience,” she said.
Marlin will once again wear the No. 10 jersey she so successfully adorned during high school — a career which culminated in an Indiana Class A State championship with the Pioneers.
She said she believes the experience has really helped her thus far in what has been a rigorous preseason.
“It’s probably the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life but it’ll pay off,” she said. “I do think college is tougher because there is much more time put into it and it is a higher level of playing, but I’d say I’m prepared for it thanks to my experiences with Providence.”
The Bears’ first game will see them take on Georgia College in the Lenoir Rhyne Classic on Friday, August 31.
Also starting its fall campaign on Friday is NCAA Division III outfit Transylvania University, ranked No. 1 in preseason polls to repeat its 2011 feat of finishing atop the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Amongst the Pioneers’ new recruits are Nick Blackwell (New Albany) and Brett Bass (Providence).
Blackwell, who plays with two-time national league runner-up and six-time state champion Javanon ‘94, follows in the footsteps of Bulldog brothers Matt and Nick Karaffa, who both played with Transy.
“I am most thankful about getting an opportunity to play in college because it was always one of my goals to play college soccer and I am truly blessed to have this chance,” he said.
Blackwell said he chose Transylvania as it is a good blend of soccer and academics that will help him pursue his goals in life, one of which is coaching.
“I have taken part in coaching the New Albany boys’ team this summer with Dutch Vigar and Dietrich Rudolph, and while attending Transy, the players can help coach club at Lexington FC, which is a great way for me to help further my coaching career and help build a foundation for it.”
Bass, meanwhile, plays club soccer with United 1996, will become the second Providence defender to play with the Transylvania, the other having been Ryan Sparks.
Like many who have played at Transy, coach Brandon Bowman — now in his 10th year at the Lexington college — was a factor when Bass was choosing where to go.
“I met with Coach Bowman and really enjoyed my visit and loved the campus,” said Bass. “Transy has consistently been strong in soccer year after year under him and that influenced my decision.
“There are a lot of juniors here with a lot of experience and it’s been challenging as the game is faster. It’s nice also having other freshmen I know like Nick Blackwell and some United teammates here.”
The Pioneers’ first game is against Berea College at the Little Caesar’s College Showcase in Lexington on Friday, August 31.
Starting their collegiate soccer careers…
Brett Bass (Providence/Transylvania, Lexington, Ky.); Nick Blackwell (New Albany/Transylvania, Lexington, Ky.); Danny Laird (Floyd Central/Northern Kentucky, Ky.); Caleb Moore (Christian Academy of Indiana/Huntington, Ind.); Chris Smith (Christian Academy of Indiana/Huntington, Ind.); Gabe Stewart (St Xavier, Henryville native/Lipscomb, Nashville, Tenn.); Rebekah Burgan (Floyd Central & Jeffersonville/Parkland College, Ill.); Lauren Haley (Floyd Central/Ohio University, Ohio); Cassie Holland (Floyd Central/Asbury, Ky.); Casey Marlin (Providence/Lenoir-Rhyne, Hickory, N.C.); Taylor Patty (Floyd Central/Southern Indiana, Evansville, Ind.); Alysen Shireman (Floyd Central, 2011 graduate, first year at Campbellsville University, Ky.). Loryn Queen (Floyd Central/University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Tenn.); Ashley Walls (Christian Academy of Indiana, 2011 graduate, first year at Asbury, Ky.)