The one thing appears fairly certain about this year’s Columbus East girls soccer team is that its style and formation may be a little different than in past years.
The Olympians return six starters from a team that went 13-5-1 and lost to Columbus North 3-0 in the sectional final. Those players could shuttle between positions this fall as coach Ilya Schwartzman tries to find the right formula.
“We certainly will have a different look with a lot of our play this year,” Schwartzman said. “We’re trying to match our personnel with the style of play that we think will be most successful for us. The nice thing about the group we have is everybody possesses a lot of soccer skill, so they’re interchangeable. We’re very capable of changing from one formation to another as the needs change.”
Perhaps no one is more likely to see action at more than one position than senior Elisa Watkins. Watkins, who recorded seven goals and seven assists, played center back as a sophomore, began last season at center midfield, then moved back to center back in the middle of the year. Schwartzman expects to have her back in the midfield to begin this season.
“If we need to, we’ll certainly feel comfortable bringing her back to the defense,” Schwartzman said. “She’s such a calming influence on everybody, she stabilized everything when we brought her back.”
Senior outside midfielder Brooklyn Taulman led East with 15 goals last season. Senior Danielle Rodgers, who plays outside midfield or forward, tied for the team lead with 11 assists.
Senior Bryn Eudy returns in goal, and sophomore Morgan Martindale is back at center back. Senior Ella Rohlfs moves from outside back to center back.
Sophomore forward Addy Galarno, junior outside backs Kayla Gastineau and Mila Lipinski, junior midfielder Maggie Lewis and junior midfielder/forward Karlee Dowd all saw action last year and could move into starting roles this season.
“Certainly it appears we are rebuilding the defense,” Schwartzman said. “Our midfield has looked very good throughout the offseason. The strikers are coming into their own and gaining a lot of confidence with a lot of creative play.”
Also vying for playing time are freshman forward Sarah Park and junior midfielder Kim Schneckenberger. The Olympians received a setback when junior Julie Connor tore an ACL this summer.
“We have a very strong nucleus of returning players,” Schwartzman said. “We had a very good preseason and offseason. We have some players who have showed good progress. We’re returning a lot of players with a lot of experience, and I’m expecting a very successful year.”
With the Bull Dogs having lost The Republic Girls Soccer Player of the Year Addy Lang to an ACL injury, East and North figure to be fairly evenly matched as favorites for the sectional.
“One player doesn’t make the soccer team necessarily,” Schwartzman said. “I know North has a lot of quality players and a great coaching staff. North has always got the best out of their players that they’ve had.
“I do know that our team is showing a lot of promise, and we certainly are going to challenge for the sectional,” he said. “Our goal is to win the sectional and go from there.”
The 2015 Columbus East girls soccer schedule:
Wednesday;at Bloomington North;7 p.m.
Aug. 24;Bloomington South;7 p.m.
Aug. 29;Columbus North;8 p.m.
Sept. 1;Madison;7 p.m.
Sept. 3;at Roncalli;7 p.m.
Sept. 4;at North Central Invitational;5:30 p.m.
Sept. 5;at North Central Invitational;9 a.m.
Sept. 8;at Bedford North Lawrence;7 p.m.
Sept. 10;at Batesville;7:30 p.m.
Sept. 12;at Floyd Central;7:30 p.m.
Sept. 15;at Jennings County;7 p.m.
Sept. 19;New Albany;11 a.m.
Sept. 22;at Jeffersonville;7 p.m.
Sept. 26;at Center Grover Tournament;10 a.m.
Oct. 1;Seymour;7 p.m.