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This season is Spring Valley's big chance

Oct. 13, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

SPRING VALLEY -- When it comes to Class AAA, Region IV high school soccer Spring Valley's name is often left out of the big picture.

In girls soccer, the Timberwolves have, for the most part, historically lived in the shadows of Huntington High, Hurricane, Winfield and Cabell Midland.

But, this season has seen a shift in dynamics in Section 2, where the Timberwolves have often had Huntington High batting them down in the section final.

This season, the Spring Valley girls team has a combination of senior leadership and freshman talent that, once the chemistry was in place, has seen the Timberwolves break out to a 12-5 record, the only winning record in Section 2. And, while defending Class AAA state champs Winfield, and Hurricane (14-1-1) loom on the other side of Region IV, this Spring Valley team will take on either one should they win the section title later this month.

"We talk about it all the time. It's ridiculous; it's crazy," said senior forward Michelle Greider. "We want to win the section so badly."

It's not just that other teams are having a down year. Spring Valley worked in the off season after falling to Huntington High 1-0 in overtime in last year's section final, to become better as a team, said senior defender Amy Stewart.

"Definitely our mentality changed," Stewart said. "We had an issue with cliques with players who were in different grades, and that's gone. We're a team now. The laziness is gone, everyone is giving everything they have out there."

Greider said this year's team is more like a family.

"We've had the time to bond, and it's the first time in a long time it's felt that way," she said.

There's also been an adjustment in skill.

"We're not all about the boom ball anymore," Stewart said. "We can play to feet. We're a lot faster."

And the Timberwolves, aside from its five seniors, are also getting heavy contributions from younger players.

Junior Quincy Webb has been crucial in the midfield for Spring Valley in generating scoring chances, and freshman players Canaan Booton and Chase Davis are scoring most of the team's goals.

Booton had a hat trick, not for the first time, and Davis added two goals in Spring Valley's 5-0 road win over Chesapeake on Wednesday.

The seniors said it was a difficult dynamic early in the year, but through the course of one game early in the season, the team just gelled and has been running strong every since.

"It took a few games for everyone to click," said coach Todd Smith. "But now that they have, I've got a starting 11 that I'm very confident in."

Smith is enjoying watching the younger players develop, but also has the luxury of seniors Stewart, Haley Merritt and dynamic keeper Hannah Smith limiting opposing offenses.

"It takes the pressure off a bit, it really does," Smith said with a smile. "But we've got a sophomore and a freshman playing defense in Abby Smith and Loren Hall who I have just as much confidence in as Amy or Haley. They're both very strong. Abby may not have the speed yet, but she has the field vision, and Loren is deceptively fast back there."

The most important thing, as far as Smith is concerned, is that it's working.

The team's veterans seem to agree.

"You learn that it's not all about you," Merritt said. "I think when we fix all of the little things with our touches, the few mistakes we make in the games, I think we have a chance at regionals, too."

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