Warren County trio ready for encore performance

Warren County 's Lisette Moya, left, Courtney L'Amoreaux, center, and Shauna Sayers, right, will lead the Lady Wildcats this spring in girls soccer. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – Shauna Sayers needed some time to build up her confidence during her freshman season with Warren County High School’s girls soccer team last year. Lisette Moya, making her own freshman varsity debut in 2015, was confident she could contribute right away, but didn’t necessarily expect the type of production she would eventually generate for the Wildcats.

Varsity veteran Courtney L’Amoreaux, on the other hand, was certain she could expect great things from Warren County’s young varsity arrivals before the 2015 spring season even started.

“I was really excited about all the new people coming on the team because all the younger kids were really, really good,” L’Amoreaux, a senior, said Friday. “I was really excited about that and obviously as it shows last season, I worked well with Lisette and Shauna and all the younger ones.”

She certainly did. The trio of L’Amoreaux, Moya and Sayers combined to score 25 of the Wildcats’ 38 goals last spring, all three reaping the benefits of what became a symbiotic and highly profitable connection on the field. Wildcats coach Mike Carpenter called it a “natural fit.”

Sayers, the speedster of the bunch, ended her first varsity season as the Wildcats’ leading scorer, her 12 goals the fifth highest mark among local girls soccer players. Moya scored seven goals and had six assists, while L’Amoreaux – the school’s all-time assist leader – tied for the area lead with 12 assists and chipped in six goals.

Sayers admitted that her freshman success caught her by surprise, but L’Amoreaux’s presence in the midfield alone was enough to give Warren County’s freshmen scoring duo a boost.

“She’s always there,” said Sayers, who added that her stellar freshman numbers were boosted by great team passing and a strong midfield.

“It definitely does (make me more comfortable) to know that there’s someone always there to support you no matter what.”

Moya echoed that sentiment, saying that although she and Sayers had limited playing experience with L’Amoreaux, the younger Wildcats had little trouble adjusting to her playing style.

“I know that I can depend on her,” said Moya, also a midfielder. “Like if something’s going on and the ball goes to some other part of the field I know that she’ll be there and I won’t have to worry as much about doing my job if she’s helping me.”

While both Moya and Sayers said it was L’Amoreaux who helped make their transition to the varsity level a quick and easy one, L’Amoreaux said it was actually she who benefited the most.

“They made my job easier. I mean I would just kick it and they’re there, they kick it and score a goal and I’m like, ‘Thank you,'” L’Amoreaux said with a laugh.

That connection could be even stronger for the Wildcats this season, especially since a lot of Warren County’s current players won’t have to go through any sort of feeling out process with their teammates. As Sayers said, “You’re not coming in as complete strangers so it’s not hard to get along.”

“I think that we’ll find our chemistry quicker than we did last year because I feel we’re more connected as a group,” said Moya, who played JV softball her eighth-grade year before coming back to soccer last season, a sport she’s been playing since she was 5 years old.

Despite the graduation of eight seniors from last year’s team, the Wildcats still return a bulk of the talent that went 10-9 and picked up the program’s first playoff victory, a 3-2 comeback at home against Madison County in which Sayers scored two goals – including the game winner in the final two minutes – Moya scored another and L’Amoreaux contributed an assist in fitting fashion.

“We won a lot of games last year but … I want us to go in the game (this year) and just give it all we’ve got every game,” Moya said.

Including L’Amoreaux, one of two team captains, the Wildcats will have the veteran leadership of seven seniors – co-captain Savanah Falls and fellow defender Nina Petitt, midfielder Nina Richards, forwards Michaela Berry and Kristyna McCullough and goalkeeper Rachel Liebl (112 saves, four shutouts in 2015).

“The two captains, Courtney and Savanah Falls, they’ve really earned it,” Carpenter said. “They worked hard in the offseason. And the whole team did. Between travel, indoor and the first two weeks of the season they’re ready to play.”

L’Amoreaux said the Wildcats are already passing and communicating with more success than previous seasons.

“I’ve never really seen that on another team as much as I have this team and it’s really exciting,” she said. “That’s why I know we’re gonna go far because we’re already just complete somehow.”

In a bit of scheduling irregularity, the Wildcats don’t open the 2016 season until March 30, when they travel across town to take on Skyline. The spring season official kicks off on Monday for area high schools.

“We’re a well-rounded team and I see players who can play multiple positions so it’s kind of hard to tell exactly (what the team’s strengths are),” Carpenter said. “You don’t know the competition yet. … It’s going to be competitive in the Bull Run this year, no doubt about it.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com