National Signing Day
Lady Vikings to defend title after inking scholarship
by Doug Gorman
The Northgate girls soccer team knows it is going to have a bullseye on its chest this spring.
That goes with the territory when you are defending state champs.
However, Lady Vikings’ head coach Bryan Hicks likes his chances to repeat with his collection of veterans coming back.
But even before Northgate steps on the field for the first game since beating Whitewater last May to win the GHSA Class AAAAA state crown, there was plenty to celebrate Wednesday afternoon as the three rising seniors signed scholarship offers to play at the next level.
Goaltender Emily Yarbrough is headed to Montevallo University in Alabama, while teammates and best friends Taylor Hendrix and Ashley Keller signed their offers to Shorter University.
Both soccer programs compete at the NCAA Division II level.
Montevallo is a member of the Peach Belt Conference that includes several Georgia schools.
Shorter is a member of the Gulf South Conference and a rival of West Georgia University in Carrollton.
Yarbrough, Hendrix and Keller have excelled on the soccer field for years, playing at the club and high school levels.
Because of their impressive soccer resumes, Hicks isn’t surprised the three seniors are getting the chance to play at the next level.
“They have been a part of the process for us to continue to build the program,” Hicks said. “They are good leaders, they work hard. These girls do whatever is needed to fill our teams needs.”
Hicks says all three players work ethic will be hard to replace after this season.
Taylor followed her older sister Brooke, now at Southern Miss, into the Northgate program has has shown improvement every year.
Emily Yarbrough backed up goaltender Mattea Lewis last season, and has played the position since she first falling in love with sport more than a decade ago.
Keller, who played defense and also earned Newnan Times Herald All-County honors for a Northgate team that earned 10 shutouts en route to the school first ever team title, is looking forward to defending the team ‘s Class AAAAA crown, and is happy to be heading to the college in Rome with her high school teammate.
“We are excited about the season,” she said. “We are heading into every game thinking we can we this again.”
Keller and Hendrix also play club soccer together with the AFC Lightning Soccer Club.
“When we first met, I was like ‘Is this girl going to even be any good at soccer?,”’ Hendrix said. “Now, we are like sisters and best friends. “We are going to be roommates at school and best friends for life. It is going to be great.”
Hicks hopes his younger players are able to draw inspiration from the three seniors hard work over the years.
“We have 14 year old girls training with 18 year olds We are in the process of trying to stay at the top,” Hicks said. “I just hope our younger players can build on this.”
Yarbrough knew she had found a home at Division II Montevallo as soon as she stepped foot on campus.
“They were the first school that caught my eye,” she said. “In was a family environment. So it was a perfect fit for me.
Yarbrough goes into her senior season with some high expectations.”
“What we did last season was special,” she said. “We were finally getting some recognition,” Yarbrough said.
Northgate’s college bound players are trying to build on last year’s memories after knocking off McIntosh in the semifinals and Whitewater in the title game for the first time.
Hicks is glad he has got the trio of college-bound players back one more time to carry the load.
“It used to be we were the hunters,” Hicks said. “Now we are the hunted. I am so glad these girls are coming back for one more season.”