Keepers of the net

Two individuals are helping anchor the New Albany soccer squads this year. Senior Bobby Coltharp and freshman Shannon Goode are both in the goal and playing the position for the first time.

While Goode has played for the Lady ‘Dawgs in the past at the wing/forward position, Coltharp tried out having never played soccer, but whose good hands helped at wide receiver for Ron Price’s football squad.

“Bobby has done extremely well considering this is his first year playing,” Bulldogs head coach Taylor Nichols said. “I think football had him ready as far as reaction time, and I think he’s just a natural at it.”

For Goode, it was a recommendation from a former NA goalie that helped place her in the position. Paige Zahller saw potential in her former teammate, and Lady Bulldog head coach Les Huntington listened, moving the freshman from the field to goal.

“She’s been a member of the squad for the past couple of years, but she never started,” Huntington said. “She’s very enthusiastic, and Paige highly recommended her to be her successor.”

“We were practicing one day over the summer, I started blocking shots in the goal, and now I’m goalie,” Goode added. “It’s been a change, but it hasn’t been too hard of an adjustment for me since I play catcher in softball.”

Zahller is still ever present with the Lady ‘Dawgs, as she has worked with all three of the keepers on the roster while she plays college ball at ICC.

“She’s been a really big help,” Goode said. “We also played softball together in high school, so we’re really close, and she’s been able to give me pointers.”

Coltharp has learned a lot from his coach and teammates, as the Bulldogs have posted four shutouts so far this season.

“They’re great,” Coltharp said of the defense. “Leonel (Sanchez), Jimbo (Waldrop), Reed (Kitchens) and Ray (Cooper) are awesome. They make me work very minimally, which is great since I haven’t played as long as them. It’s nice when they put forth all of their effort, because it takes the pressure off of me.”

Nichols has seen his keeper grow throughout the season, and has noted his tightened confidence.

“That was one of his things at first,” Nichols said. “He wasn’t really sure because he had never really played soccer a lot, so just him being more comfortable, especially with his feet skills. That’s one area he was worried about at the beginning of the season as far as punting, but as time’s gone  on, he’s relaxed and not worried about it as much. That’s something that’s grown on him and he’s improved a lot.”

While the Lady ‘Dawgs are a youthful squad this year, Goode sees good things coming and notes her best game when she had 25 saves versus Hernando.

“Right now we know we’re young and we’re just trying to learn as a team,” Goode said. We’re all working together and trying our best.”

Goode also has two junior high girls behind her, Summer Sanderson and Hannah Humphreys, who could possibly see more playing time, moving Goode back into the field.

“Right now, Shannon is the only player we have who brings both field and goalie jerseys to each game,” Huntington said. “I would like to see her move back into the field.”

The ‘Dawgs and Lady ‘Dawgs will be back in action this week, hosting Pontotoc Thursday night.