JAMES WOOD_SKYLINE7

Skyline’s Alli Haffer, left, and James Wood’s Kaylah Gankiewicz, right, battle for ball possession during soccer action last season. Haffer is one of seven seniors who made a big impact on Skyline's girls soccer program.

Skyline's girls soccer team had a lot of promise this season before it was canceled by the Virginia High School League due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A big part of that optimism for the Hawks was due to the seven seniors the squad had.

Skyline girls soccer coach Kristy Beaune said that she couldn't have asked for a better group of seniors – Taylor Bolt, Heather Brogan, Alli Haffer, Liz Loveland, Destinee Manning, Jenna Stanley and Sabrina Wilkins.

"They're just a good group," Beaune said. "It makes me so sad. They're good students. They're good athletes. They're sweet girls. They are just a joy to be around and they enjoy the game of soccer."

Beaune said that last year Bolt didn't get as much playing time because she hadn't come into the season as prepared as she needed to. However, she said this year Bolt dedicated herself and worked hard and could have had a big year.

"She came into this season ready to roll," Beaune said. "So I was really excited for that, especially with it being her senior year. Bolt would probably be like the mom of the team, that just kind of takes care of everybody and watches after everybody. She's very attentive and sweet and a good worker. She's another one that when she puts her mind to it she's just in it."

Brogan is one of the team's top defenders and Beaune said that she was versatile, which allowed them to put Brogan at different spots on the field. Brogan was a second-team All-Class 3 Northwestern District selection last season.

"She's played a lot of different positions," Beaune said. "I like her as a defender or defensive-mid, but she's willing to play wherever she can play. She just wants to play. She just likes the game. She likes getting involved and being a part of the play. She's another one that I can very much rely on. Like if it comes down to it and I need somebody that can get the job done, I know I can count on her to get the job done."

Beaune said that Brogan, who also played girls basketball at Skyline, and Haffer were both a big part of her defense. Beaune said that Haffer, who also played volleyball at Skyline, always showed great leadership on the team.

"She's been a defender for me since she was a freshman," Beaune said of Haffer. "She came up as a freshman and played varsity all four years. She's just a lot of fun. She always comes in ready to work and ready to get it done. She's very feisty. She knows when it's time to be serious, when it's time to get down to business and when it's time to kid around. Even as a freshman she definitely showed her leadership through the team from the beginning. She's one of those that I can always rely on to go out there and put her heart into it."

Beaune said that Loveland transferred from Millbrook after her freshman season but fit right into the team.

Beaune said that Loveland was really good at meging people, which means she could beat her opponent to the ball, tap it between her legs and run around them before they knew what happened.

"Even before games we were like 'how many people are you going to meg today, Liz?'" Beaune said. "Her footwork, she's got great footwork and an eye for the game. She's just so sweet, very involved in her church and just nice to others. She cares about others a lot."

Manning suffered a knee injury after her sophomore season and had to have knee surgery, which Beaune said slowed her down last season. However, Beaune said that Manning came back strong and was in line to have a good year.

"Over the summer she put so much work in," Beaune said. "She had been working on strengthening her knee and strengthening her body and she was just ready to go. She has been working on her footwork. The girl has put in the effort because she wanted to prove that the knee was just a fluke thing. She was ready to go. She's a hard worker. I know she has a full-time job on top of making time for sports and academics and everything else."

Beaune said that Stanley is smart and part of Skyline's academic team. She said that Stanley, a forward, was also consistent for the Hawks throughout her career.

"She's so bright," Beaune said. "She gets out there and just puts her heart into the play. She's a finesse player. She always seemed to figure out how to put herself in the right position to put the ball in the back of the net."

Stanley said that she missed a lot of time last season due to a concussion, but she had worked hard and felt like she could have had a big season this year.

Stanley, who also played volleyball at Skyline, said her favorite memory of the girls soccer team was simply seeing the improvement they made from being freshman up until now.

"We've gotten so much better," Stanley said. "Honestly, since my freshman year, we've grown so much as a team. It's just really unfortunate that we couldn't play our last season together just to see everything come together in the final year."

Wilkins did not play last year, choosing to do track and field instead. Wilkins was a standout cross country runner for four years and was also part of Skyline's state tournament academic team.

Beaune said they were happy to have Wilkins back on the girls soccer team this season, after missing her junior year.

"She's always smiling. She's always laughing," Beaune said. "She's good at soccer but what she brings to it is you can tell her passion for the game. And that with her speed just makes her such a force to be reckoned with. So we were really excited to have her back this year, especially since she's gotten so much stronger. She's been working so hard on cross country. So she came in and we were ready for her to be scoring goals and taking off and beating people left and right."

Stanley said the group of seven seniors were close and had a strong bond.

"We've all been playing soccer together since we were about 10 years old," Stanley said. "Most of us are all very close friends. So it's a good thing for our sports teams because we all trust each other and we work together really well. I see that in the younger girls as well. The cohesion, the friendship, it's a rare thing, I think, for teams because I've seen other teams that don't have that same cohesion and it doesn't work as well. But I think next year they'll have that team work aspect that will really take them to the next level."

Beaune said that seniors were great leaders for the team and were always helping the younger players and that's part of the reason the program has so much promise for the future.

Stanley said that she will attend the University of Virginia in the fall and plans to major in public policy with a minor in religious studies. She said she hopes to play club soccer at U.Va.

Stanley said that the sport has given her a lot over the years and she will never forget the memories she made playing soccer.

"For me, it's more than just exercise and fun," she said. "It's also like team building and friendship, and its like a family because we've all been together for so long. It's just something bigger than just a sport. we've been together for years, like all year long because you would play all year long. It's just a big family, and I'm going to miss it a lot."

Contact Tommy Keeler Jr. at tkeeler@nvdaily.com