2016 Girls Soccer Coach of the Year: Falcons start clicking in Dellinger’s second season

Kim Dellinger

WOODSTOCK – Central High School’s girls soccer team just needed time to adjust.

In Kim Dellinger’s first season as the Falcons’ head coach in 2015, Central won just three games as the program’s recent struggles on the field continued. But in his second year this past spring, Dellinger saw the Falcons win nine matches while picking up a Conference 35 tournament victory and advancing to the conference semifinal round.

“I think it’s just some of the girls that are falling into the system and getting used to my coaching,” Dellinger said last week of the Falcons notching six more wins in 2016 than in his first season. “… Last season we probably had a little bit more talent than this season, it’s just those kids had been coached by the previous coach.

“Once you get the ones that are used to the system that I’m teaching, you kind of get consistency and they gel a little bit more throughout.”

Dellinger, The Northern Virginia Daily’s 2016 Girls Soccer Coach of the Year, listed two traits of his coaching style that required a bit of acclimation for the Falcons in his short tenure as head coach.

For starters, Dellinger has a penchant for changing formations and strategies “on the fly” during matches, a coaching habit that he said came back to bite Central in its 2-0 loss to Clarke County in the Conference 35 tournament semifinals on May 24, when Clarke struck for two goals in a span of one minute with about eight minutes to play in the game.

He also described himself as “over-the-top extreme” with most everything he does – when he commits to doing something, it becomes his life, he said. It’s perhaps that trait that generates intensity within him during matches that he feels isn’t always present in other high school coaches.

Dellinger said he often channels that intensity into scrimmages during practice, where he typically competes alongside his players in order to portray the speed and aggressiveness they will see from opposing players.

“This team has been one of the best teams I’ve ever coached,” said Dellinger, who has a decade of soccer coaching experience in local parks and recreation leagues and with the Shenandoah Flash travel team. “When they come to practice, they’re very focused on what’s going on in practice. They focus on what I’m doing. … The only thing that probably happens is a lot of times I’m harder on them than I should be because I know they’re capable of so much more.”

Central’s 9-8-1 record in 2016 amounted to the Falcons’ first winning season since 2011, a feat that came after what Dellinger called a lot of “ups and downs with wins and losses” throughout the season.

“We won some games that we didn’t expect to win but at the same time we gave up some that we shouldn’t have,” said Dellinger, who added that the Falcons’ season was highlighted by a confidence-building 2-0 win over William Monroe on April 26.

Part of that inconsistency, Dellinger said, was the result of the Falcons’ youth. Although most of Central’s roster was made up of experienced travel players, the Falcons still competed with only three seniors and five juniors. Over half of Central’s roster was comprised of freshmen and sophomores as the Falcons competed against tough competition in Conference 35 and the Bull Run District.

Central also began to sputter offensively after an injury to sophomore Bailey Gale late in the season and needed penalty kicks to beat Luray in the Conference 35 tournament quarterfinals.

What did remain fairly consistent, though, was Central’s defense. Led by freshman goalkeeper Kendall Herbaugh (a first team all-conference/all-district selection) and senior defenders Theresa Smith (second team all-district) and Jasmine Cardoso, the Falcons held opposing teams to less than two goals per game and notched five shutouts.

“Our defense was very, very good and that’s gonna be hard to replace next season,” Dellinger said, “but there’s gonna be people that step up. But our defense was very good when it came to our defending mids and our backs.”

Though Central will lose Smith, Cardoso and fellow senior Vanessa Wheeler to graduation, Dellinger said he’s confident in being able to reload the Falcons’ defense with the return of rising junior Paige Wilson – whom Dellinger called one of Central’s best defenders – and rising sophomore Summer Sypolt, who effectively played the sweeper position against Clarke County in the conference semis.

The Falcons also figure to return most of the players responsible for the team’s 34 goals in 2016, including leading scorer Ciara Philpott (11 goals), a first team all-Conference 35 pick as a sophomore this spring, Lauren Cook (nine goals), Kaelyn Cary (six goals) and Sydney Crosser (five goals).

“I think their potential is unlimited, but I’m their coach so I always believe that,” Dellinger said of next season. “I think they’re capable of anything. I think we just take game by game but I think they have tons of potential and I would like to see us move past conference in the following seasons.”

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