Last season was rough for the first-ever Dyersburg State women’s soccer team as the Lady Eagles went 0-14.
This season was quite different in various ways.
Dyersburg State, thanks to three goals from Madison Luttrell and a fourth from Maddie Ray, both of whom are Covington graduates, defeated Northwest Mississippi 4-3 in the season opener for the program’s first win.
“When we had our Sophomore Night, that was what just about everybody said was the highlight of their careers,” said head coach Robert Luttrell. “It was huge.”
Since that game there have been some ups and downs, but there’s no doubt the program, which is based at the Jimmy Naifeh campus in Covington, has improved by leaps and bounds in year two.
Dyersburg State enjoyed a two-game winning streak in September, defeating Southwest Mississippi 3-1 and Meridian 5-3, and picked up a 1-0 win over Martin Methodist in the Oct. 19 regular season finale.
The Lady Eagles finished the season at 4-11-2 after a 5-1 loss in the conference tournament semfinals against Motlow at Columbia State.
“As far the season goes, it’s been much better for the team and me,” Robert Luttrell said. “We know what we’re dealing with.”
Several players have had big seasons, and most of them are from Tipton County high schools.
Madison Luttrell, who was named first team all-conference and Freshman of the Year, scored a team-high nine goals, which ranked fourth in the conference, and also logged eighth assists, which also ranked fourth. Her 53 shots on goal were first in the league.
Lyndsie Ralyea, a Munford graduate, had seven assists (third in the conference) and three goals. Brighton graduate Lilyan Williams was first in the conference with 125 saves.
Williams, Abby Gray and Ralyea were each named first team all-conference.
Several other players have blossomed in year two as well.
“I don’t think there’s been a game where I haven’t played everybody,” Luttrell said. “Theres a big difference between this and high school. I can put anybody out there and there won’t be a deficit. I’ve got college girls who I need to develop. I have to see what they can do. They’re not going to get better sitting on the bench.”
All of the players are on this year’s roster are from West Tennessee, and about half are from Tipton County. Luttrell said he plans on expanding his recruiting base into the rest of Tennessee in the coming years.
“There’s enough talent in Tennessee,” he said. “The talent is here. We just have to find it.”