The Kentucky Wesleyan women’s soccer roster is jam packed with athletes from the Owensboro, Kentucky area.
If you look at most other teams at Wesleyan, as well as in the conference, you will find athletes from different cities, states, and even other countries. It is unusual to find a college team that has a large amount of local talent, especially when they are some of their biggest contributors.
Jamie Duvall recently completed his 12th season as head coach of the Panthers. Being a former Panther from Owensboro himself, Duvall has made it known that having nine Owensboro natives currently on his roster is no coincidence.
“When I was hired way back in 2011, my plan was to dominate recruiting local talent first,” Duvall said. “I knew these kids around here could play because I had seen and coached a lot of them, we were just in an overlooked area.”
Fifth-year senior and team captain Natalie Hinchcliffe headlines this group of hometown heroes. The Daviess County High School alumnus solidified herself in the KWC record books, placing ninth in career points and fifth in career assists.
Meg Patton is another fifth-year senior captain from Owensboro Catholic High School. The defender started 64 of 67 games that she appeared in during her career.
Juniors Chloe Hinchcliffe, Ashlyn Payton, Bree Owen, and Elizabeth Collier have all been teammates since middle school. Four consecutive district titles and two region titles at Daviess County was just the beginning, as they decided to remain teammates for another four years at Wesleyan. The four combined for 54% of points scored for the Panthers this season.
Steeley Walker, another Daviess County product, won 9th District Player of the Year just a season ago. Walker started at center back this season for the Panthers in her freshman year.
Shelby Taylor is a senior who has recorded 60 starts in four seasons at Kentucky Wesleyan. Taylor and Alyssa Lawrence each graduated from Apollo High School.
All these athletes were very familiar with each other during their high school careers. Now those opponents have found a way to come together as a team here at Wesleyan.
“Taking rivals and making them teammates is never really a problem,” said Duvall. “I also pray that God sends me who he wants me to coach, and I try to honor those yeses and noes. Some of my proudest memories are from the least expected places so I just trust that God knows what He wants from me and who He wants to send.”