Poca, Hutchins aiming high
If 2011 was a sign of things to come, then expect another big year for the Poca girls soccer team and junior standout Harley Hutchins.
Poca won a school-best 17 games, and Hutchins, then a sophomore, scored a career-best 28 goals to lead the Dots to a regionals appearance last season.
"I'm excited to see what we can do and how far we can go this year," said Hutchins, a 2011 Class AA-A first-team all-state choice. "We have a young group of girls this season and a ton of speed. We're playing aggressively and working really hard this year."
Hutchins, a forward, believes setting yearly goals is a good form of motivation for her.
"Last year I wanted to score 20 goals, and I got 28," added Hutchins. "This season my goal is 30."
Poca coach Mike Shrewsbury believes his star forward can achieve her goal, but is cautious to put a heavy workload on the junior.
"Harley can't be one-dimensional and Poca can't be one-dimensional on offense," said Shrewsbury. "Harley is extremely fast, she has a strong left and right leg, and she has the ability to score anytime from anywhere. But we can't rely on one person to score and Harley can't always outrun everyone."
For a more balanced attack, Shrewsbury is moving former sweeper Marissa Perkins to an offensive-oriented midfielder role this season with the hopes of opening up holes in the opponents' defense for the Dots, and more specifically Hutchins.
"We have to get Harley more into the flow of the offense, which is one reason why we've brought Marissa up," Shrewsbury said. "They have to start working together - the give-and-goes, the overlaps. If our opponent knows the only thing we're going to do is kick the ball to Harley and have her try to outrun the defense, they will just shut her down."
If Poca can get more players involved in the offensive attack, it'll take a lot of the stress off Hutchins and may allow her to be more productive for the team.
"If we can keep the defenses playing us more honest, it'll give Harley more opportunities to move around," Shrewsbury said. "It'll take the pressure off of her, and in the long run it should allow her to score more goals, which is great for the team."
Hutchins also expects to increase her role in the distribution of the ball this season.
"I'm not only looking to score goals, but I want to help my teammates score as well," said Hutchins. "With Marissa back up front, she'll be open to score a lot. I expect her and I to be really close in scoring this year."
The Dots were without Hutchins for their home opener Friday night against Ripley because she hadn't participated in enough preseason workouts.
"I missed too many practices this season and didn't get in my practice days due to my family vacation," said Hutchins.
Hutchins was scheduled to miss an additional game next week, but that game with Point Pleasant was recently postponed.
"We had to reschedule that game," said Shrewsbury. "Point Pleasant's coach had so many players out for various reasons that he doesn't have enough players with the practices to play a varsity game."