Dayspring Christian Academy finished their season recently with 5-3 loss to Shennandoah Valley Christian Academy (SVCA) in the National Association of Christian Athletics (NACA) championship to finish second nationally in the Division I soccer championships.
Despite the loss, the Lions capped an excellent season, finishing with a 15-4-2 record.
Four players were named to the all-tournament team including mid-fielders Emma Kennedy and Karli Edwards, sweeper Ansley Melton, and keeper Emma Cook. The Lions defeated teams from Georgia and Tennessee to advance to the championship before falling to fellow Virginians SVCA.
Offensively, the team was paced this season by Kennedy who led the team with 31 goals and 14 assists. The former state player of the year followed up her excellent freshman season with an equally strong sophomore campaign.
Freshman outside midfielder Ellie Buehrer added 9 goals and 7 assists while senior forward Stephanie Rice contributed 7 goals and 3 assists. Fellow midfielders Edwards, Kylah Mandell, Kensey Bailey, Emily Shelton, Taylor Spence and Flannery McNair all contributed offensively as each found the back of the net during the season.
Mandell, a sophomore, was the anchor of that midfield group as she logged over 1500 minutes this season.
Defensively, keeper Emma Cook who capped her season with the all-tournament keeper selection, recorded a 0.91 goals-against-average including 12 shut-outs. She was aided tremendously by a strong defense that was anchored by senior sweeper Melton, another all-tournament selection.
The defense was a key for Dayspring all season and benefited from strong performances by stopper Cora Stafford and a trio of fullbacks: Karmen Mandell, Kailey Weaver, and Brooke Crowgey.
The Lions will need to replace several key pieces next season as they lose five seniors (Rice, Melton, Crowgey, Weaver and Bailey). However, the young talent on the team gives them confidence heading into the off-season.
–Dayspring Coach Mike Buehrer.