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PREVIEW: Cherokee Bluff girls open soccer season with high hopes, experienced roster
Cherokee Bluff
Cherokee Bluff's Kaitlin Cook connects on a goal against Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament on April 20 in Flowery Branch. Photo by Nathan Berg

Cherokee Bluff High girls soccer coach Calvin Cook feels like his team is up for a massive challenge in 2022. 

Everything to this point has been a positive stepping stone for the Lady Bears, coming off a second-round trip to the Class 3A state playoffs 2021. 

Now, the Lady Bears are ready to take aim of having a special season, and hopefully a deep playoff run in the private-school-heavy classification.

“We’re continuing to grow,” said Cook, Cherokee Bluff’s fourth-year coach. “We’re excited about having everybody back this season.”

The schedule the Lady Bears’ coach has assembled indicates he believes they’re ready to make that leap as a program. 

Leading the way, Cherokee Bluff has sophomore Kaitlin Cook, who scored 27 goals last season, three in the first-round playoff win against Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe. 

In addition, Cook said his program has developed defensively during the offseason, as well as getting ‘bigger, faster and stronger,’ Cook said. 

The schedule indicates that Cherokee Bluff is ready to face the state’s best, even though it only has one senior starting: Haley Wilton. 

Five times before region play even begins this season, the seventh-ranked Lady Bears (0-1) will face a ranked-opponent in non-region play. 

On Tuesday, the Lady Bears opened the season with a 9-0 loss to No. 3 Buford. 

That score is a bit misleading as Cherokee Bluff’s top scoring threat is still in the middle of basketball season. 

Before region play begins, Cherokee Bluff will face ranked clubs, including Jefferson, Lambert, Lakeview Academy and Pinecrest Academy. 

“We want the non-region games to be the toughest part of our schedule,” Cook added. 

Depth is improved for the Lady Bears this season. 

Amelia Dovie, Carson DeMars and Anna Gessner all return, after tallying double-digit goals last season. 

The Lady Bears also have talent with their team captains, including Avery Fowler and Gessner. 

Another angle that has helped Cherokee Bluff’s program improve, coach Cook said, is that seven of its players are multi-sport athletes. 

The Lady Bears’ soccer roster has two volleyball players (a 2021 state semifinalist), two who are playing basketball and another pair from the Region 7-3A champion cross country program. 

In addition to playing more than one sport: the Lady Bears are academically gifted. Coach Cook said the average team GPA is a 4.1.

Up next, Cherokee Bluff visits Class 7A’s second-ranked Lambert (1-0) on Friday in Cumming. 

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