Hinchcliffe off to hot start

Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer.com | geans@messenger-inquirer.com Daviess County’s Chloe Hinchcliffe gets downfield during a game against Owensboro Tuesday at Deer Park.

It didn't take long for Chloe Hinchcliffe to reach mid-season form.

In Daviess County High School's first two soccer games of the season, the senior striker/midfielder has already notched a team-high seven goals -- including six in Tuesday's 9th District-opening victory over Owensboro. Along with her scoring outburst, Hinchcliffe also leads the Lady Panthers with three assists.

With what he's seen of Hinchcliffe throughout her career, coach David Sandifer isn't surprised by her production.

"She has the ability to create her own shot, see the field well and distribute," said Sandifer, noting that Hinchcliffe is one of several talented Lady Panthers who fit that criteria. "Last year, she was our assist leader for the season. We expect her to lead through communication, distribution, movement, using the ball for herself and her teammates."

In fact, Hinchcliffe said, she's not sure if she'll see another scoring run like she did Tuesday -- only because of how balanced the DCHS roster is.

"We're not gonna have one person score every single goal," she said. "We're a team with a lot of good players that can all do good things. We can all move the ball really well, so the scoring's gonna be spread out."

Much of her success has come as a result of simply finding the right spots at the right time.

"I'm not a super-fast person who can outrun people," Hinchcliffe said. "I'm usually good at combining -- passing, moving and getting the ball back more than being fast and outrunning people."

Last season, Hinchcliffe finished with 15 goals and 13 assists after recording 22 goals and 13 helpers as a sophomore. That year, she had the chance to play alongside older sister and former DC star Natalie Hinchcliffe. The two will be reunited on the field next season at Kentucky Wesleyan College.

"It's great playing with Natalie," Chloe Hinchcliffe said. "I loved it every single year. She's really helped me come out of my shell with being confident and being able to move the ball on my own because I did really rely on her a lot. She's obviously a great player. When she left, it really gave me the confidence of 'Oh, I'm good enough to beat people now without her.'"

A big part of that confidence stems simply from siblings pushing one another to improve.

"It's a little competitive between us," Hinchcliffe said, laughing. "We're not mean, we're not too bad, but we do push each other to do better."

Now, as a senior, Hinchcliffe finds herself in that same leadership role that her sister once occupied. However, with 11 other seniors on the roster, she's not alone.

"It's great, we've all known each other for a really long time," Hinchcliffe said. "We've all been playing together, and this is another year of experience for all of us, so it keeps making us better players.

"It's senior year, it's obviously our last year, so we want to make it great."

For Hinchcliffe, who has played soccer and just about every variation of the sport since she was 4 years old, nothing would be better than capping off her career with another trip to the KHSAA State Tournament.

"I think (last year) actually helped," she said, referencing DC's 3-2 loss to Owensboro Catholic in the 3rd Region title game. "We realized how you can still lose a game, no matter how good you think you have it. We won 6-1 in district but then lost in region. You can't go into a game thinking you're gonna win, you have to play hard every game.

"I think we can get really far this year. Obviously, everyone wants to get to state, but hopefully we get farther than we did last year."

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