Follow The Republic:
THE Columbus East girls soccer team put together a sizzling 33-4-1 the past two years.
But three of those losses and the tie sting especially hard for the Olympians since they came at the hands of arch-rival Columbus North. Two of those losses to the Bull Dogs came in the final four minutes, and two came in the sectional finals.
With eight starters back, including a strong core of seniors, East hopes this is the year it can dethrone North and win its first sectional title since 2006.
“Our goals are to avenge the losses and play good, solid soccer,” East coach Ilya Schwartzman said. “We need to go out and play our type of game and put the ball in the back of the net, which is what we didn’t end up doing in the sectional last year.”
The Olympians and Bull Dogs were scoreless in the sectional final until North’s Morgan Proffitt found the net in the 77th minute. Kenadie Carlson added a score in the final minute for a 2-0 victory.
East and North played to a 1-1 tie in the regular season. The teams will meet this regular season Aug. 31.
“I think we just have to play our game,” said senior Olivia Smith, a second-team All-State selection last season. “We have to not let it get in our heads, and if we play the way we play, I think we have a good chance.”
“Our biggest goal is going to be to push each other in practice and improve as a team,” said senior Sydney Newell, who made first team All-State. “Hard work will pay off in the end.”
The Olympians did go 16-2-1 and repeat as Hoosier Hills Conference champions last season.
“The expectation is to win the conference,” Schwartzman said. “This year, we have very high expectations of winning sectional and advancing to the state. It’s a team that’s capable of doing that. I think we have the talent to do it. They’ve put the work into it, and we need to show it on the field this time.”
A look at the area teams:
The Olympians would have had nine starters returning, but suffered a big blow two weeks ago when senior midfielder Sam Watters tore an ACL in a summer game.
Besides Newell, who played offensive midfield, and Smith, an outside defender, East welcomes back senior center back Molly Macy and junior outside back Kristen Bellinger, both of which were third-team All-State selections. Senior forward Rachel Amlung, senior defensive midfielders Hayden Lang and Olivia Darnell and junior outside midfielder Kylie Stattenfield also return.
“A lot of players will probably see the same positions, but we’re still trying to decide,” Schwartzman said. “We have a lot of players who are capable of playing various positions. We’re going to try to find the best 11 to put on the field.”
Senior Spencer Eudy saw plenty of action in goal last season and will be backed up by her sister, sophomore Bryn Eudy. Battling for the other spots are sophomores Elisa Watkins, Danielle Rodgers, Brooklyn Taulman and Ella Rohlfs and juniors Molly Connor and Bailey Dowd.
“It’s a very similar team to last year, but the style will probably be a bit different because we have a little bit more of a developmental offensive game than ‘Find the target and attack,’” Schwartzman said. “We’ll rely a lot on developing out of defense and finding our opportunities.”
The Bull Dogs return seven starters from a team that went 8-8-3 and won the sectional.
Senior Kenadie Carlson, a second-team All-State selection, played center midfield last season and could also play forward this year. Carlson led North with 12 goals and five assists, while senior outside midfielder Gabby Sims added seven goals and five assists.
“We’re looking for them to take some of the younger players and bring them through,” North coach Derek Stewart said.
Juniors Olivia Stewart and Emma Risley return in the midfield. Juniors LauraAnne Watanabe and Riley Perry will move from outside back to center back.
Junior Claire Chambers, who started at beginning of last season before tearing an ACL, can play anywhere on the field and will likely be in the midfield. Freshman Natalie Teo will also be in the midfield, while freshman Addie Lang will play forward and freshman Charlotte Verbanic or junior Kyra Dasovich will be in goal.
Junior Lauren Britt could play anywhere on the field. Sophomore midfielder Katie Carlson and senior stopper Hannah Bailey will also see action.
“It’s a good mix,” Derek Stewart said. “We have four or five solid juniors coming back. We have a couple good seniors. The underclassmen, it’s a talented group coming in. I’m excited about this group. I think we’ll be a hard team to beat.”
The Panthers struggled to a 3-14-1 record last season, but are hoping for a turnaround with seven starters back.
The returners are senior center midfielder Ali Kreutzjans, senior outside midfielders Brittany Lykins, and Savanna Conrad, senior forward Emily Wooley, junior forward Sydney Kirchner, sophomore forward Justine Corya and sophomore center back Taylor AmRhein. Looking to fill the other spots are sophomore outside midfielder Anna McGriff , freshman center midfielder Lydia Borgeman, freshman forward Olivia VanOsdol and freshman goalkeeper Avis McGovern.
Senior defenders Amber Herr and Jaimie Baldwin have been starters in the past. Sophomore Elaine Lykins could also see action.
“Based on what we’ve seen in practice so far, I would be disappointed if we didn’t have a much better season than the previous three seasons combined,” Jennings coach Kate Gray said.
The Eagles will look to win the Western Indiana Conference with nine starters back from a 9-7-1 team. They finished second in the WIC behind Sullivan last season.
“I think conference is definitely something that’s within our grasp this year,” Brown County coach David Phelps said. “I know (Sullivan) graduated a lot, so we hope to be more competitive with them this year. One thing we lacked against them was physicality, and that’s something we’ve been working on a lot.”
Sophomore Rachel Smith and senior Lennon Lacy-Connell return at forward. Sophomore Kennedy Bruner and seniors Sophie Riebl and Rebecca Wedan are back in the midfield. Seniors Liza Newman and Sophia Goris and sophomore Kayla Snyder return on defense and senior Arielle Suhre is back in goal.
Juniors Katie Higgins and Amber Sizemore could step into the other midfield spots.
The Owls return five starters from a team that went 8-9.
Senior forward Clare Lenart, senior midfielder Brielyn Tidd, junior defenders/midfielders Lillie Hartman and Maria Morales and sophomore forward Louisa Carter are all back. Junior defender Maria Clemente also played varsity.
Looking to fill the other starting spots are senior midfielder Liz Steltenpohl, senior forward Devon Joray, freshman defender/midfielder Kayla Griffin, freshman defender Marie Lenart and junior goalkeeper Kelley Sharp started as a freshman and was the backup last season. Top subs will be senior defender Lorissa Rogers and sophomore Liz Davis, who could play anywhere on the field
“There’s a definite growth that I’ve seen from last year to this year with the girls,” Seymour coach Greg Musser said. “Hopefully, our last game of the regular season against Columbus (East) will decide the conference.”
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!
Note: All comments left on our sites are first reviewed by an automated comment moderation system. Your comment may take up to 5 minutes to appear. If for any reason your comment can not be approved you will receive an email from this system with a detailed explanation.
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.