Coming off a season with no wins in 2018, the West Wilkes Blackhawks had no place to go but up in 2019.

Although the improvement was incremental, the Blackhawks were able to record their first victory since May 2017 — the first victory of Head Coach Natalie Marley’s career.

Despite the lone victory in 2019, the Blackhawks gained valuable experience in year two under Marley.

The 2018 season was a rough year for the Blackhawks as they transitioned from long-time Head Coach Carsten Lyck to Marley, who had played goalkeeper for Lyck.

The 2018 squad had only one senior, so heading into 2019, many of the same players returned to the squad for Marley.

Despite having 10 seniors on the 2019 squad, many of the players were still relatively new to the game of soccer, and developing them was a key for Marley heading into the season.

“Our expectations for 2019 were to improve with every game and compete for the entire 80 minutes,” said Marley.

The 2019 Blackhawks were led in scoring by senior Jaimi Shell.

Shell scored four goals on the season, including both goals in the Blackhawks’ lone win over Alleghany in Sparta in March. Joining Shell up top as a forward was senior Samantha Tobias.

“Jaimi was our driving force on offense this year. She’s skilled on the dribble and has a dangerous shot. She always follows her shot, which makes her more of a threat,” said Marley about her leading scorer.

Marley identified the midfield as one area of development for the Blackhawks early in the season.

“We have to work on winning the midfield as a unit. We’ve struggled with fifty-fifty balls, so we need to be faster to the ball and stronger on it,” said Marley.

Lacey Church was the leader in the midfield for the Blackhawks all season, showcasing a deep understanding of the game. Church was West’s leader in assists with four and also had the team’s only other goal of the season.

The other key figure in the midfield for the Blackhawks was Natalie Perez-Basil. The senior midfielder was important in being able to cover the midfield both offensively and defensively from box to box.  

Also in the midfield, seniors Hannah Vining, Erica Parsons,and Adrianna Diaz were major contributors. First-year player Skyler McPherson — a three-year varsity contributor for the girls basketball team — has also been a major player for the Blackhawks, using her natural athletic ability to defend the midfield.

The defensive responsibilities this season fell to a mix of seniors and underclassmen. At sweeper, freshman Brooke Greene was a pleasant surprise.

“She’s a versatile player, but because of her speed we used her in the back,” remarked Marley about her freshman defender.

Alongside Greene, seniors Jenna Miller, Skyler Lunsford and Julia McGee were key figures. Laura Waddell, Abigail Waddell and Arleen Espinoza also served as starters and substitutes for the defense throughout the season.

In the net for the Blackhawks was senior Kenya Carcamo.

“Kenya is a natural leader and makes plenty of game changing saves for us,” said Marley. “She acts as a field general, talking to the girls and encouraging them during the games.”

The Blackhawks may have only collected one win on the season, but it was a milestone victory for the Hawks as it ended a 24-match losing streak and marked the first win under Marley’s leadership  with a 2-1 victory over Alleghany.

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