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Chronister, Lady Airedales fall at home

By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools

By her own account, Ashlyn Chronister figures she puts in close to three or four miles every time she and her teammates lace up their sneakers for a soccer match. 

But the Alma senior wouldn't have it any other way.

"I've played all the positions, but right now I play center-mid — that's a tough one," Chronister said. "There's a lot of running. I get to be in the middle, so I get to help out in the front and the back; I get to be everywhere, pretty much. 

"It feels really good to help my team out."

Chronister and the Lady Airedales battled Clarksville before falling Tuesday 3-0. First-time goalie Sidney Hatley played well in the loss. 

“Clarksville had 15 shots to our 6, with Presli (Taylor) accounting for all of our shots,” Alma coach Cory Sturdivant said. “Presli of course made an impact on the offensive end, and it'll be very exciting to see her find the back of the net.”

Hatley had 13 saves for the Lady Airedales (0-1). 

“She did a great job in her first start as goalie communicating with the girls, making great saves, and being aggressive to the ball,” Sturdivant said. “She will make us a lot better defensively with her athletic ability to make saves, punt the ball out, and just her all around great personality and leadership skills. (We’re) very excited that she's a part of the team.”

A standout volleyball player, Hatley and three other players — Taylor, Kenzie Rushing and Kailie Plourde — transitioned this week from basketball to soccer. 

“I also thought Kenzie Rushing played a great defensive game — she's had one practice with us but hasn't missed a step since last season,” Sturdivant said.

Alma’s slow start hasn’t been unexpected, given the number of key players the program graduated following 2020's shortened season. 

"It's been really difficult," Chronister said. "We have so many restrictions; it's kind of hard to get stuff going."

Alma, which opens 5A-West play Friday against Mountain Home, blasted Vilonia in last season’s league opener. Then three days later, the season was canceled.

"I wanted to play with those seniors (2020) so bad," Chronister said. "I feel like we were going to have a really, really good season, and I feel bad that they didn't get to have that season."

Chronister is among a handful of seniors - Lydia Bowerman and Ansley Kirkendoll are the others - who played for Sturdivant in Alma’s inaugural season of 2018. 

"I could not have done soccer without him," Chronister said. "He's been a really good coach and a friend. There will a lot of tears on Senior Night," 

Chronister played other sports before migrating full-time to soccer (she also plays tennis).

"I remember being really nervous," she said. "I wasn't very good, but the girls were super, super supportive. It was a really good environment; it was totally different from the other sports I had played in.

"It's really awesome to be part of the first soccer group to come all the way through."