March 15, 2009
CALEDONIA -- Kayla Kilgore and Stacie Murphy have been fixtures in the Caledonia High School girls soccer program for the past five years.
On Friday, the Lady Confederates realized dreams long in the making when they signed national letters of intent to play soccer at Itawamba Community College.
Kilgore and Murphy said they always wanted to continue their soccer careers in college. They hope to use the next two years to earn opportunities to move on to four-year schools.
In the meantime, though, both players will start preparing themselves for the transition.
"It is going to be a lot tougher," Kilgore said. "I am going to have to be a lot more aggressive and have a lot more agility. I think it is a challenge. It will just give me something to look forward to and make me make myself better."
Kilgore said her mother, Jane, went to ICC, and she always has loved the campus. She said she played a variety of sports -- cross country, track and field, volleyball, boxing, and mixed martial arts, among others -- to stay in shape for soccer.
The work off the field paid off.
Kilgore said she likely will try to win a spot at midfield at ICC. She feels her endurance and her aggressiveness suit her well when she''s in the middle of the field.
"I am extremely excited," Kilgore said. "It also is sad because I don''t want to leave my players I have played with for five years. It also is sad to leave my parents, but it is exciting to go and to be on my own and to finally get the dream I have always wanted, which is to be a soccer player in college."
Murphy said ICC is the ideal school for her to continue her soccer career. She said one of her really good friends from Caledonia High, Marissa Senneff, a freshman defender on ICC team this past season, talked her into picking Fulton as her destination.
"I am really excited about it," Murphy said. "She showed me around the campus and I enjoyed it. The coach seems like a really good guy."Murphy said being away from her parents likely will be the biggest adjustment she will have to make.
She said it wasn''t until her sophomore year that she realized wanted to play soccer in college. She said she had a "rough" year as a junior but regained the fire to play this season.
Murphy said missing four to five matches with mononucleosis reinforced how much she loves the sport and that she wants to take the next step.
"The biggest challenge is seeing how the other people play," Murphy said. "I am so used to playing with the girls here that I am not saying they are a whole lot better there, but it is going to be difficult with the transition."
Murphy said she would like to play forward and will try her hardest to earn playing time at that position, but she said she will play wherever Sullivan needs her.
ICC lost to eventual state champion Gulf Coast 3-1 on Oct. 18 in the semifinals MACJC State Tournament to finish 10-5-4.
Caledonia High girls soccer coach Jason Forrester said both girls have been solid contributors for five seasons. He said there never was any doubt that both would go on and play soccer in college.
"They both work extremely hard," Forrester said. "Academically and athletically, they put everything they have into everything they do. Today is exactly where they want to be."
Kilgore finished her career with four goals and 15 assists, while Murphy has seven goals and 12 assists. And even though the Lady Confederates didn''t have the kind of season they wanted in 2008, Forrester said Kilgore and Murphy were key contributors.
Kilgore played defender, midfielder, and forward in her career and excelled this season at center midfield, Forrester said.
Murphy is a presence at forward and midfield and because of her effort and her strong right foot. Forrester said Murphy also enjoys setting teammates up to score goals.
Forrester said all of those skills should help them make an impact at ICC.
"I know coach (Mike) Sullivan has done a very good job with (ICC), so there is going to be competition for them, without a doubt," Forrester said. "I think both of them can step up to that level very easily because they are natural leaders. They were there every day, made sure things were going right, and played until the very last minute. I think they will be able to produce and do what coach Sullivan wants them to do."
Sullivan said his goal is to attract the top talent from the immediate area. He is excited about what each player has the potential to add to the program.
"Kayla has good size and with a little bit of work is going to be really good for us," Sullivan said. "Stacie is a little crafty with the ball and seems to be able create some things on her own. We''re looking for them to do something for us sooner rather than later."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.