Published Thursday, March 01, 2012 in Sports By Chris GoltermannThe Newnan Times-Herald For the second time this year, one or more Heritage School teams began Tuesday expecting to open the 2012 soccer season. Once again, Mother Nature had other ideas. Considering what both Heritage School lineups anticipate to be a banner year, longtime soccer coach Ron Rineer had to be a bit disappointed that rain once again forced a cancellation, this time washing out Tuesday’s home doubleheader with Trinity, Ala. “We’re oh for two now,” Rineer said of Tuesday and a girls rainout from last Friday. “Unless we get a monsoon, we’re going to be playing Thursday. We really need to get a game in.” Heritage School teams will now begin the season with today’s Region 1-AA opener at home, before hosting Arlington Christian on Friday. “We’re expecting some big things out of both teams this year,” Rineer said. “We lost a couple of key players on the girls, but it should still be a very experienced team. We have more boys out playing than we have in the last six years.” Rineer is changing up coaching duties a bit from years past. Instead of leading both teams, he will lead the girls and assist the boys. The Hawks will be in the capable hands of coach Mike Johnson, who is also receiving help from three former high school players, two of which played goal for Heritage School. Former goalies Steve Steen and Ed Loughlin join former Newnan High player Stan Soulen as assistants. Soulen recently finished his college career at North Georgia College as a team captain. “I think with one of us on each team it will work out much better. Mike’s worked well with the boys and I think they’ll benefit from this,” Rineer said. “They really had a rough year. We finished with twelve players.” Heritage School still managed to qualify for the state playoffs before running smack into eventual state champion Frederica Academy. Last year’s lineup included three eighth-graders and four freshmen. The numbers for the Hawks are up to 20, with the majority of last year’s players young lineup returning. This year’s roster has five seniors, up from just one in 2011. Heritage School is expecting big things from senior midfielders David Martin, Gabe Pulsipher and Corey Roberts, who broke his ankle early last year. Added to that group is newcomer Ben Dudley, with the junior making the transition to goalie following a winter season of indoor soccer. The move allows senior Nash Woodlief to move from the net to forward. Seniors Mitchell Jones at forward and Grant Carl on defense are newcomers to the roster. “I really feel this is a year where the boys can put a good solid season together,” Rineer said. “I think there’s the potential for more than just making the playoffs.” The Lady Hawks, meanwhile, have been arguably the second-best team in GISA Class AA the last two seasons, with only Frederica and All-American Morgan Brian standing in their way each time. Last year, Heritage School’s girls ran into Frederica in the state finals after falling to the the Lady Knights during the 2010 Final Four. Two obvious absences will need to be filled for Heritage School in departing seniors Emily Gray Powell and Lydia Powell. The pair were bookends to the Lady Hawks’ success most of the past five years. Emily Gray, now a freshman at Valdosta State, smashed school and state scoring records in the GISA, while Lydia kept opponents at bay on the other end of the field in goal. Heritage School’s girls dominated region play, going 7-1 and 15-3 overall, with its only loss coming in penalty kicks at LaGrange Academy to snap a region win streak lasting several seasons. “We’re definitely going to miss those two players,” Rineer said. “But there is still a lot of experience on this year. We’ve been the second best team the last two seasons. This year we feel that we also have a chance to be very special.” Between Megan Gruber, a fifth-year contributor, and fellow seniors Kathryn Martin and Conner Heindel, the midfield should have a veteran presence. The return of senior sweeper Lauren Brandner should an equally soothing effect on the defense. Gruber and Brandner are both returning All-State selections from 2011. Kendall Roy, a senior transfer, also joins the team this year while adding athleticism to the lineup. The team’s other upperclassman is defender Katharine Wendt. The junior class includes Elizabeth Massenburg, who made an impact as a new face on the basketball court this winter. Sophomore Shelbie Mills has come on strong as a striker since coming on the scene during the 2010 season and became an even bigger part of the offense as a freshman last spring. Another sophomore, Ansley Dieckmann also enters her third year as a key contributor. While Mills hopes to take on more of the offense, the goalkeeping duties now are in the capable hands of Lilly Smith, one of five freshmen. The ninth graders also include defender Maggie Crosby, who played as an eighth grader.