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March 6, 2011
By PAUL MONTANA - Bulletin Sports Writer

From the Bengal Bash on Friday, there was one constant theme from participating area coaches: Getting comfortable with new faces.

Bassett's and Magna Vista's boys and girls soccer teams both competed in the 12-team event at the Smith River Sports Complex, in which teams played three or four exhibition games, each with a duration of half of a full high school game.

The reigning Piedmont District Champion Bassett Bengals performed best in both the boys and girls, as the boys went an undefeated 4-0 while the girls went 1-1-2.

Here is a look at what areas the coaches see as strengths and things that need improvement as the spring season approaches.

Bassett Boys

q GAMES: W 3-0 vs. Christiansburg, W 2-0 vs. Carroll County, W 3-0 vs. Magna Vista, W 2-1 vs. Rustburg.

q POSITIVES: "My young guys stepped up," BHS coach Larry Wylie said, noting that Ben White, a freshman, scored a goal, while new faces Ethan Truman, James Craig and Jake Sharpe also played well. "Lucas Prillaman, our leading goal-scorer from last year, was not there last night, but yet we still found ways to get the ball in the back of the net."

q NEEDS WORK: "One of our attacking tactics, which is switching the ball through the midfield, we did not do a good job of that last night," Wylie said. "We seemed to be isolated in transition or delayed in transition. We didn't put pressure on the ball like we normally do, we were sporadic at it. Those things just have to get instinctive."

He also added, "We did not run our set pieces very well last night, the ones that we had in place."

Bassett Girls

q GAMES: L 4-0 vs. Northside, W 1-0 vs. Magna Vista, D 1-1 vs. Carroll County, D 1-1 vs. Rustburg.

q POSITIVES: "We were without a couple of key players, and we were able to get some good looks at some new players in some different spots," first-year Bassett coach Melissa Blair said. "Even though we only return eight players from last year's team on a team of 22, I feel very positive about this season."

q NEEDS WORK: "Our possession, passing the ball. And defense," Blair said. "We graduated (goalkeeper) Lynn Murphy, who was two-time Piedmont (District) player of the year, and sweeper Mara Doss, and Alexis Cunningham. Those are some big shoes to fill. We're probably going to have to move some players around a lot, but I think we're gonna be able to do that."

Magna Vista Boys

q GAMES: W 4-0 vs. Christiansburg, L 3-0 vs. Bassett, W 2-1 vs. Carroll County.

q POSITIVES: "I thought we were very relaxed and under control," Magna Vista coach David Sergeant said. "Everybody had good composure. They understood and did their roles and did their jobs very well."

q NEEDS WORK: "One thing I noticed is we need to challenge for 50-50 balls a little bit more, and keep our shape defensively a little bit better, and just play together more," Sergeant said. "We've got a lot of new kids ... As we get more comfortable with each other, I think we'll be all right."

Magna Vista Girls

q GAMES: L 4-0 vs. Northside, L 1-0 vs. Bassett, D 0-0 vs. Carroll County.

q POSITIVES: "I think just seeing all the new girls that got to come out, just seeing what they were capable of in a game situation was probably one of the biggest benefits," MVHS coach Ryne Powell said. "We had a lot of freshmen step up and show what they were capable of, and had a lot of upperclassmen step up and fill the shoes that they have to do as returning players."

q NEGATIVES: "I think the biggest thing we're gonna have to work on is, we just have a lot of new people, and getting that continuity," Powell said. "We're gonna have to get together and become more of a team. Just as far as getting the new people ingrained into what we're doing, as well as the returning people."