With a 16-2-1 record and a state semifinal berth in Class A, the Knights enjoyed their best season in years.
Now, Pace will try to build on its achievements of 2012 as it begins the ’13 campaign.
“For the past five years, every season, we’ve gotten better and better,” Pace coach Liz Tutt said. “We’ve been able to improve every season.”
The Knights got the season off on the right foot last Wednesday with a 9-0 victory over Mount Vernon Presbyterian.
With most of their players returning from last year’s state semifinalists and a number of promising young players entering the fold, Tutt said things are looking good for her team.
“We have the bulk [returning],” Tutt said. “We’re missing two seniors, but we gained quite a few more. We have 34 girls, so we’re starting up a separate JV team as well as a varsity team, so our numbers are growing.”
It will be a little while before Pace is completely whole, however, with seven of its players still playing for the school’s girls’ basketball team — which has qualified for the Class A state private school tournament.
“We are basically without most of the team — a lot of it, anyway,” Tutt said. “So, we basically are going to re-adjust all over again when we get them.”
The Knights feature a veteran backfield — led by seniors Lauren Schaffer and Lucy Wellborn, the team captain and a four-year varsity player, as well as junior Kandace Thompson.
While Tutt said there are still some areas to address, she is pleased with the direction her team is headed.
“We’ve got some veterans in the back,” Tutt said. “We’re trying right now to work on the placing of our central midfield play. We’re trying to get a good sense of holding the ball and I think — with a little more time — getting our roster settled and with everybody out there, it’s going to work out.”
Pace gets a boost offensively with the return of its top scorers from last season — junior forward Arden Carlton (24 goals, six assists) and junior Evelyn Hobbs (17 goals), who can play a number of positions. Sophomore midfielder Rachel Morrisroe is another key player.
While the Knights will play in a competitive Area 5A that includes Galloway, a Class A quarterfinalist last season, and state playoff team Paideia, Tutt believes her squad can repeat its success of a year ago.
“We have new areas this year and we have a strong area,” Tutt said. “But, I feel confident that if we do what we did last year and use sound fundamentals, hopefully, we can make a deep run [in the state playoffs].”