QUICKSBURG – Stonewall Jackson had a stellar girls soccer season last year. Even though they lost a few key pieces, the youthful Generals have good reason to have high hopes for the upcoming season.
Stonewall Jackson returns a good chunk of players from last year’s 16-4-1 team and coach Ginny Dellinger wants to duplicate the success they had last year.
“We’ve got few good returners,” Dellinger said. “We lost a few good players, but we got some good ones coming up. We’re really excited. We’re hopeful we can reprise last season and have a really good season. I have a lot of hope for this team. They’ve played together for a long time. And I think that they’re going to show us some good stuff this season.”
The Generals lost top goal scorer LuLu Funkhouser (41 goals and nine assists) and midfielder J.J. Dellinger (10 goals and 22 assists) and Sue Garber (three goals, and two assists) to graduation.
However, the Generals finished last season with nine freshmen on the squad, and most of them are back this year.
While Stonewall Jackson returns a lot from last year, some of them will be playing new positions.
Senior Casey Gibson, who had two goals and 10 assists last year, will move from midfielder to forward. Gibson said she’s excited about the move.
“Forward is actually the position that I’ve been playing since I was a really young player,” Gibson said. “So to be able to move to that position in high school soccer, to finally be able to have that spot available for me is really exciting. I’m hoping to do big things there. But it should be something that is beneficial to the team.”
The top returning goal scorer is sophomore Kylene Franklin, who had 26 goals and 10 assists last year.
Sophomore Katie Jordan will be moving from defender to forward. Franklin said that she’s excited to play with Jordan up top.
“I’ve always played with Katie since I was in travel (soccer),” Franklin said. “So I’m kind of used to it. So it’s nice to have her back up there with me. So we’ll see how it goes.”
Senior midfielder Virginia Biller also returns for the Generals. She had two goals and 10 assists.
Another player on the move for the team is sophomore Eli Dellinger. Last year Dellinger was a first team All-Region 2B selection, and now she will be playing in the midfield. She had four goals and six assists last year.
Ginny Dellinger said Eli, her daughter, and Franklin have a special connection on the pitch and she wanted to take advantage of that this season.
“I want to move her up there,” Ginny Dellinger said of Eli. “She has a huge rapport with Kylene because they’ve played together since they were 5 and they work. And I wanted to get that synergy. So I really want her to be playing that center midfield position.”
Ginny Dellinger said that while they are moving some players up from the defense, they will always have the option to move them back to defense if needed in certain games.
Joining the defense this season is junior Jannine Nunez-Vargas, a transfer from Broadway High School. Ginny Dellinger said she’s been a welcome addition to the Generals’ defense.
The Generals will have a new goalkeeper this season as sophomore Sarah Streett decided not to return to the team this season. Ginny Dellinger said that sophomores Lillian Proctor and Isabell Dellinger will both see action at goalkeeper this season, but she doesn’t know who will start the season at the spot.
Ginny Dellinger said that she will probably be using a new system this season that utilizes the strengths of her team.
Biller and Gibson are the only two seniors on a team that includes 10 sophomores and one freshman. Biller said that she’s enjoying her leadership role this season.
“It’s very exciting to finally be a senior on the team and be a leader,” Biller said. “Being a senior is really sad though because I’ve been playing since I was little. And it being my last year is kind of bittersweet. It’s nice to be in charge for once, but I’m going to miss playing with everyone.”
The Generals start their season on March 15, hosting Wilson Memorial.
One change this season is the Generals will not have to play in the Class 2 postseason as they have had to in previous years. For the first time ever there will be a Class 1 state tournament. For the last three seasons Stonewall Jackson, a Class 1 school, has had to play up against Class 2 competition in the postseason.
Ginny Dellinger said she expects the Shenandoah District to be tough again this season. Last year the Generals finished second in the regular season and the tournament.
Gibson said she wants the team to do even better in the district this year.
“I would really like to see us get the district championship this year,” Gibson said. “Last year we came in second place, and I think we can get it this year.”