RADFORD – Stonewall Jackson girls soccer coach Ginny Dellinger preaches to her team that they need to be able to play multiple positions, and this week it is paying off.
Stonewall Jackson’s Casey and Morgan Gibson are out of town this week on a vacation cruise. Dellinger has had to make adjustments to her lineup without the two valuable starters but the squad hasn’t missed a beat in advancing to today’s Class 1 state finals.
“I try very hard to have almost everybody be able to play two positions,” Dellinger said. “Because I feel like with injuries, sickness absences, vacations you’re going to run into situations where somebody is going to have to play not where they’re maybe most comfortable or their best.”
Dellinger said she tries to take advantage of every opportunity she gets in the regular season to move her players around.
“Whenever we get up in the regular season, I don’t really let people have more than a hat trick,” Dellinger said. “I move them around and play so people get experience in other positions, and I think that pays off for us here. Obviously, I’m able to move Brooke Jones from outside positions to the midfield positions. Virginia (Biller), I move from those positions. Obviously, Eli (Dellinger) and Kylene (Franklin) can play anywhere.”
All the versatility showed in Stonewall Jackson’s 3-1 state semifinal win over Eastern Montgomery as Ginny Dellinger was constantly having her players switch positions to make adjustments throughout the game.
With the Gibson sisters out, one key move has been for sophomore Katie Jordan to move from defensive midfield to center back.
“Katie Jordan is way up there on our depth chart,” Ginny Dellinger said. “She can play anywhere on the field. We’re obviously utilizing her at center back right now, but I wish I could put her up front because she would absolutely show us something.”
Jones has taken Jordan’s starting spot at defensive midfield and had a key goal in the first half of Friday’s victory.
Biller played different positions throughout the state semifinal win and said despite having players out, the defense didn’t miss a beat.
“Katie Jordan has done an amazing job stepping up,” Biller said. “She has taken that position completely. So with her and me and (junior) Janine (Nunez) and (Madison Wright), we put speed back there. And we were just pushing them, pushing them up, working together. We all do a great job of covering for each other. So our back is very solid. I’m very proud of our defense.”
Ginny Dellinger said one key change in the second half was moving freshman Wright up from defender to forward. She said Stonewall Jackson assistant coach Zella Hoyt came up with the idea and it paid off.
“We decided to take a little bit of a risk,” Ginny Dellinger said. “We weakened our back just a little bit, but strengthened the front of that side and got some more speed on the front. (Wright) did a fantastic job up there. She started breaking through and they had to adjust to that. And because of that push on the front of the field, we didn’t get as much pressure in the back.”