Wando girls reload for another title run
Wando girls soccer coach Shannon Champ hates to lose.
And when you’ve got a program that has gone 96-3-1 over the last four seasons and captured four of the last five Class AAAA state titles, losing isn’t a common occurrence.
But given the choice, Champ will take a preseason tournament defeat over a loss in May any time.
T.L. Hanna shocked Wando, 1-0, in the opening round of the Viking Cup in Columbia earlier this month. Wando went on to beat Ridge View, 5-0, and White Knoll, 5-1, during the tournament.
Champ said the loss to T.L. Hanna could be a blessing in disguise for the Warriors.
“It was a very frustrating game on so many levels,” Champ said. “But the one thing it showed us is that if we don’t come to play and take care of business, we can get beat. I think it’ll motivate us for the rest of the season.”
The Warriors lost several key players from last year’s state championship squad, including The Post and Courier’s Player of the Year in Annie Peeples and keeper Amelia Henderson.
“It seems like we lose great players every season, and certainly Annie and Amelia were great players,” Champ said. “I think one of the things that has made this program so strong over the last few years has been our depth. We think we’re two or three players deep at every position.”
In other words, the Warriors don’t rebuild, they reload.
The problem for Champ has been trying to mesh all the talent she has into a single cohesive unit.
“We go through this at the beginning of every season,” Champ said. “We’re trying to find a lineup and the players with the best chemistry. It’ll take us a couple of games to figure that out.”
Sophomore Logan Nelson takes over in net for Henderson. Nelson got plenty of playing time as a freshman and is a standout keeper in her own right, Champ said.
Junior midfielder Rachel Torlay, who scored goals in each of the last two state finals against Mauldin, will be counted on heavily.
“She’s one of our team leaders,” Champ said. “She just has a knack for scoring big goals for us.”
Striker Nora Bishop and Melissa McCool will be counted on for their scoring touch around the net.
“Nora and Melissa are very dangerous players for us,” Champ said.
“Melissa can beat most defenders one on one.”
Paige Urig has been moved from defender to the midfield.
One reason Urig was able to move to midfield was because of the emergence of defender Raymara Barreto. Just a freshman, Barreto is starting at center back.