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Georgetown College women's soccer team is adding six freshmen to the 2012 squad as coach Leah Crews Castleman enters her fifth season at the helm. She has helped her alma mater improve steadily the past four years, advancing to the finals of the Mid-South Conference tournament the past three.
"We are knocking on that door with perennial power Lindsey Wilson," Castleman said. "This group of six is six more pieces to that puzzle of trying to break that wall down."
Alicia Ducett was an early get for coach. The Scott County native signed the spring of her junior season to be a Tiger in 2012. Joining her will be: Kelsey Givens, Jackie Powell, Ariel Howell, Emily McLellan and Sarah Hencke.
Givens is a four-year varsity starter for Model Laboratory High School in Richmond. As a freshman, she stepped into the role of goalkeeper and never looked back.
"We graduated one of the best keepers to come through this program in Cathie (Shaver)," said Castleman, who also played goal for GC and holds the top spot in all the record books for her four-years. "Cathie was what she was because of her work ethic and willingness to learn. We had a great spring with Jasmine (Brissett) and Kelsey will give us depth at the position."
Givens was all-district twice (2009 and 2011) and all-region honorable mention in 2009. She was the team MVP in 2011, got the 110% Award in 2009 and was honored with best first year of varsity in 2008.
Powell comes to Georgetown by way of Ryle High School in Union. The midfielder also played for Ohio Elite.
"Midfielders are always a great get," Castleman said. "They can be some of the most versatile athletes on the field. Case in point is junior Kaitlyn (Osborne), who as a freshman played midfield for me but was able to step back to center back this past season. She never missed a beat at either position.
"I know Jackie has the same type of potential. I like her as a midfielder, but it is always nice knowing that she has a good grasp of the game overall, as well as the aggression and technical skill to contribute right away."
Powell was Midfielder of the Year in 2008 and lettered all four years at Ryle.
Boone County High School standout Howell gives Castleman some fire power up front. The forward also played for Hammer FC. Tearing her anterior cruciate ligament sidelined her for one season, but she was named three times to the NKY Coaches Team, two-time all-district, two-time NKY All-Conference All-Star team and was Second Team All-State in 2011. She was also recently named Florence Recorder's Sportswoman of the Year.
"We have a lot of great scorers with Anna (Ayers), Alessandra (Jansen) and Alex (Harbowy) back," Castleman said. "But all three are seniors. It's great to be able to bring in Ariel to add to that mix along with sophomore Bea Cameron. I think Ariel will be able to surprise a lot of teams and it is always a relief to have that many options to put it in the back of the net."
Oldham County has supplied a lot of talented players for Castleman over her four seasons, and she is sure the same will be said for North Oldham High School's McLellan. She is another forward.
"McLellan brings the size and athleticism that really works in our system," Castleman said.
She comes to GC ending her tenure with Javanon, which is one of the best club programs in Kentucky.
The Lady Mustangs were 58-19-13 over the past four seasons, twice advancing to the regional tournament.
Hencke rounds out the class from Baylor School in Chattanooga, TN. Baylor was ranked No. 7 nationally at one point this past fall. Baylor has won seven state titles and finished no worse than second in 12 of the past 16 state tournaments.
Hencke is a technically savvy midfielder who Castleman believes could be an instant contributor for the Tigers as other players are shuffled around to determine the most cohesive group defensively for the 2012 season.
"I am truly excited for August to get here so i can begin to help these newcomers get situated in this program. I believe all six will have very successful careers as Tigers!"