Funkhouser having strong freshman year
QUICKSBURG — LuLu Funkhouser has had a standout freshman season.
After a strong cross country season, in which she just missed becoming all-state, she saw playing time at point guard for the girls basketball team. Funkhouser is following that up with a very strong girls soccer season. Soccer is a sport that Funkhouser said she’s always had success at.
“Cross country, I didn’t know I was going to do so well in,’ Funkhouser said. “Basketball — I knew I was going to struggle. Soccer — I was expecting to do this. I was hoping I would do this, and now I’m just proud.”
Funkhouser has had plenty to be proud about so far, as she is one of the top goal-scorers in the area.
The 5-foot-4 forward already has 10 goals on the season. She said her favorite part of the game is shooting, and she’s worked on that part of the game a lot.
“During the summer my dad and me go to the parks, anywhere,” Funkhouser said. “At home, I have a little goal. I shoot at little goals to increase your accuracy. Put in the work and it works.”
It worked this past week, as Funkhouser scored four goals in two games. She had two goals in a 5-1 victory over Luray, and then two goals and two assists in a 10-0 rout against Page County.
Her strong week helped Funkhouser become the Northern Virginia Daily’s Female Athlete of the Week for April 20-26.
Funkhouser said that she learned a lot from playing sports in the fall and winter seasons.
“In cross country coach [Mary] Clanahan taught me the importance of teams,” Funkhouser said. “[Girls basketball] Coach Burner taught me the importance of hard work, and now I’m just putting it all together.”
Funkhouser said she’s played on Shenandoah County travel teams for a number of years, and that’s really helped her with her game.
Stonewall Jackson coach Hap Kwiatkowski said that she can do a lot more than just score.
“She’s very tenacious on defense, too,” Kwiatkowski said. “As a center-forward and a wing-forward, she’s willing to come back halfway and get that ball back. If she loses a ball, she’s right after that opponent trying to win it back. And very rarely do you see that [from a forward].”
Funkhouser said scoring goals has always come naturally to her, but she also enjoys getting assists and helping her teammates score.
Kwiatkowski said Funkhouser is very good at keeping the ball close to her as she dribbles, which helps to beat defenders. He said she’s also improved her runs on the pitch.
“This season she’s had to learn to make some more dynamic runs, instead of just running more south on the field,” Kwiatkowski said. “It seems like it’s working out for her.”
Funkhouser said basketball is her favorite sport, in part because it doesn’t come as easy for her.
“I’ve always played soccer, so that will always have a special place in my heart,” Funkhouser said.
Kwiatkowski said that Funkhouser and the three other freshmen have blended in well with the team.
He said that she’s provided valuable leadership even as a freshman.
“I think the team feeds off her,” Kwiatkowski said. “Her athleticism, her tenacity, her go get ’em attitude — they feed off of that. They see her, and everybody else wants to jump in.”
The Generals are 3-6 on the season, but have won three of their last four matches. With a mix of seniors and freshmen on the team, it took a little time for them together, but they have in the last few weeks.
The Generals have two Shenandoah District games this week against Stuarts Draft and Wilson Memorial. They lost to both teams previously, but Funkhouser said she believes they can turn things around this time and the rest of the season.
“We got two hard games this week. If we do well, we know we can beat the other teams. We should have beat them the first time, but we just weren’t quite ready yet,” Funkhouser said. “We work well as a team, but we all have weaknesses and we just don’t work well together sometimes. Once we got it together, we were doing well working as a team. We just got to keep going.”
Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org