By Jake Thompson firstname.lastname@example.org
Hendricks County Flyer
---- — Each county school set records, won titles and generally played a fantastic year of girls’ soccer on all fronts last season. Can the local teams do it again? It seems likely with a lot of the talent coming back with unfinished business on their minds.
Plainfield set a season record with 13 wins last year, finishing 13-3-3. More impressive was the Quakers’ output as they averaged 5.9 goals per contest thanks in part to several players with outstanding seasons.
Plainfield coach Kristen Sullivan believes her team should be able to continue where they left off this year.
“We did lose a talented senior class last year, but we have the core of our group returning this season,” she said.
Senior Allison Abbe scored a team-high 27 goals and contributed 14 assists last year and classmates Sophie Warren and Kassidy Edwards each contributed 14 goals.
Plainfield also returns seniors Anna Bruner, Ana Fernandez, Lena Charles, and Brittany Davis.
“This group brings a lot of talent, strong leadership and overall knowledge of the game,” Sullivan said of her seniors. “This group has had their eyes set on this season for a long time. They have developed into outstanding leaders as well.”
Abbe, Davis, Charles and Bruner will captain this year’s squad.
Sullivan said the Quakers would like to win the Mid-State Conference, — Plainfield took second last year — win all three games of the Hoosier Cup and make a deep run in the tournament.
“Our successes depend a lot upon this core group of upperclassmen setting team goals and putting in the time and effort to achieve them,” she said.
Helping the upperclassmen achieve those team goals are juniors Sarah Miller, Mea Wallace, Olivia Warren, Tessa Strube, Brittany Stewart, Katherine Bender and Angela Barnett along with sophomore Londyn Feasel and freshman Amber Blissmer.
Plainfield’s offensive threats include Abbe, Edwards, Warren, Davis and Feasel. Sullivan said to “look for (them) to frequently find the net for the Quakers this season.”
Leading the defensive charge for Plainfield are Charles, Bruner, and Barnett, all of which return to the back line for the Quakers.
Two things Sullivan said are important to the success of Plainfield are staying injury free and getting the new varsity comfortable to the Quakers’ style and system of play.
Danville welcomes new coach Robert Dowhen to the squad this season. Dowhen comes to Danville after coaching six seasons of men’s varsity soccer in northwest Indiana and wasted no time leaving his footprint on the Warriors’ program.
“I am very excited to coach in Hendricks County,” Dowhen said. “Athletic and academic excellence is seen clearly in central Indiana. Although many of our program goals, mindsets, routines, conditioning, and direction have changed, we plan to represent the Danville Warrior brand of athletics with integrity and pride as it always has been.”
Dowhen set high expectations for the program and has a great starting point from which to build as the Warriors set a school record for wins last season with 13.
“Last year’s Warriors team has set the pace of where this program needs to continually be,” Dowhen said. “Wins and losses will come, but true growth and advancement is on the agenda. Their school record of 13 wins is a great thing for Danville… but the plan is to get to a new record each year. New records could include season wins, students participating in collegiate soccer, the amount of girls in the program, and sectional tournament progression.”
Helping Dowhen achieve his goals is offensive standout and reigning team MVP Stephanie Burdsall. The junior scored 28 goals last season and was selected to the first-team Sagamore Conference squad.
Burdsall, along with senior Emily Cloncs and sophomore Kylie Barnhart have been selected as team captains this season. Cloncs and Barnhart were both second-team all-conference players a year ago.
Freshmen Lizzie Smith and Ella Davis are two players that have also caught Dowhen’s eye.
“They show a strong understanding of the game and have worked each session to be at the top of the roster,” he said.
Along with assistant coach Jordyn Shaffer and returning coach Mike Burdsall, Dowhen has implemented a new conditioning format that he hopes will pay dividends this season.
“My staff and I brought a different approach to conditioning, preparation and game ideals to Danville this year,” he said. “We hope to see a large payoff for all of the hard work that each young lady contributed. We are proud that much of the summer was spent tackling a heightened level of conditioning.”
After advancing to the sectional final against Brownsburg last season, the Avon Orioles lost a heartbreaker to the Bulldogs in overtime, 1-0. Avon has been stacked with talent in recent seasons, but that has not translated into major postseason success, leaving a bitter taste in the Orioles’ mouths.
It’s safe to say, Avon is out to change that this season.
“State tournament is always difficult to advance in,” Avon coach Eric Nance said. “Central Indiana has the best talent in the state and the majority of the teams in the top 20 rankings are from our area. The teams that play the best soccer and have a little luck along the way are the ones that have success in the postseason. We would love to be one of those teams this season.”
Aiding the Orioles to their goals this year is the return of 14 of 19 of their varsity players from last season’s squad that finished 13-4-2. Avon also brings up some talent from the junior varsity squad as well as two talented freshmen.
“The girls are very determined to have a strong season,” Nance said. “The senior class has had a very successful career at Avon and want to make sure senior year is the best. The entire group has been putting in good work this offseason and the mentality is exactly what we want heading into the season.”
Helping the Orioles achieve their goals will be second team all-state players Cassidy Blacha and Madison Knock. Junior Kelsey Dossey, who tallied 10 shutouts in goal last year, has started since her freshman season and is a formidable presence in goal.
Blacha, a junior mid-fielder, and Dossey were also both members of the Hoosier Crossroads Conference first-team last season. Blacha has committed to play at Indiana University and Dossey has committed to the University of Missouri.
“Both players bring a couple of years of experience and are great leaders by example on the field,” Nance said.
The HCC should be the toughest girls’ soccer conference in the state as last season seven teams resided in the top 11 of the state rankings. Avon placed second in the HCC last year and hopes to improve this season.
“We love it because we get to play great competition each game,” Nance said. “Getting wins in the HCC is exciting because we know how difficult it is.”
Avon’s captains include four-year letter winner Sarah Zolcak, Knock, Blacha, and Dossey. Bringing senior leadership to the squad are Brooklynn Guerrettaz, Sierra Weyenberg, Emily Unison and Alex Kimes.
Other varsity returners include Hope Mueller, Hannah Klotzsche, Kayli Katterheinrich, Cassady Hibner, and Teagan Vonderheit. Junior varsity players moving to varsity this season are Aspen Weyenberg, Sarah Morgan, and Marissa McDowell.
“The goal for the season is to take it one game at a time and improve throughout the year,” Nance said. “The competition we play in the HCC, Zionsville Invite, (and) North Central Invite will have us battle tested. We hope to be healthy and prepared once state tournament comes around. Each season is different and it all depends on how well the girls can come together.”
The Cadets won their third consecutive West Central Conference title last season, and made school history by recording the most wins for the program and fielding the best sectional performance ever. Cascade finished 12-4-1, going undefeated in the WCC.
Cascade coach Sean Adams is excited to see what the Cadets can do this season and has high hopes. Adams believes there is a formula Cascade can follow to improve on those accomplishments.
“In order to replicate these results this year, we will need to continue to spread the field, shoot early and often, and defense will need to adapt to new positions while learning to mesh as a single unit,” he said. “Our teamwork helped propel us last year and that will need to continue this year.”
The Cadets return major offensive firepower in Jalynn Gorman, Olivia Fisher and Maddie Berg; all three were Cascade’s top three leading scorers. Gorman recorded a team-high 27 goals (14th in the state) and Fisher tallied a team-high 18 assists (10th in the state).
“My trio of Gorman, Fisher and Berg could very well be one of the most dangerous trios in our class,” Adams said. “They have the ability to score a goal a piece in just minutes. They now have one year together under their belts and have spent time together in the offseason as well. I expect this year that the three will really start to click and anticipate where the others will be positioned on the field.”
Seniors Emily Rubin and Danielle Hensley along with juniors Haley Bennett, Brooke Mourey and Kyndall Norris all will also be counted on this season in the varsity lineup.
Adams said the most improved player from last season is “undoubtedly” sophomore goalkeeper Madison McGlaun.
“She has increased her range of laying out for balls and increased her reaction time,” he said. “She will surely win us two or three games this year.”
Rubin, Fisher and Bennett and Norris will captain the Cadets.
“These ladies have spent time this summer tweaking their games while raising the game of those younger and less experienced,” Adams said. “Their knowledge for the game and leadership is what earned them the title of captain.”
Adding depth to Cascade’s roster this season are Caitlin Baurle, Katie Smith, Casey Bell, Jaira Gibson, Corynn Engel, Hailey Ferguson and Allison Woodall.
Despite all that is going in the Cadets’ favor, Adams recognizes places his team needs to get better.
“Our biggest improvements will need to be spreading the field and communication,” Adams said. “If we are able to spread the field, we will open up the field for more opportunities to score. Knowing where to be when another player rotates will prevent holes in our offense and defense. First touches and keeping possession will also be a focus this year.”
There is also an area Adams believes gives his team a big advantage over others and hopes that will be a key factor in the Cadets’ postseason advancement.
“This team is a pretty special team whose closeness will help to perpetuate us to the regionals this season,” he said.
After winning back-to-back sectional titles after the state went to two classes of soccer, the Tri-West Bruins have started a bit of a tradition. The Bruins haven’t lost a sectional final in that span and first-year coach Billy Hall would like to keep it that way.
“I believe that there is a lot of potential in the team we have this year,” Hall said. “We will look to our upperclassmen to provide leadership and experience for us during the postseason, as they have been there before.”
Hall said he’s liked what he’s seen so far and “can say that I have been very impressed with the amount of commitment and dedication I have seen from our team so far this year.”
After graduating a large senior class, Tri-West must improve as the season develops to achieve a three-peat in sectional play or continuing its run at an seventh straight Sagamore Conference title.
“Even as a new coach in this program, I am aware of the quality of last year’s senior class, and they surely will be missed,” Hall said. “However, there is a great deal of talent and leadership in this year’s senior class as well. They have been instrumental in bringing the team together during the preseason and maintaining the high level of commitment from all the players. They recognize how vital their role is to the success of the team overall.”
Hall said his soccer philosophy starts with the back line and feels the Bruins have a definite advantage there with seniors Brittany Kiefer and Lauren Mardis and junior Karen Jones.
Jones returns to her familiar spot as goalkeeper for the Bruins and has recorded 21 shutouts in two seasons.
“Having Karen back in goal is a great advantage because she is a talented goalkeeper as well as a great leader,” Hall said.
Mardis, Kiefer and Sydney Carlson will captain the Bruins, but Hall expects others to step up as well.
“We also have six additional seniors that demonstrate exemplary leadership skills,” he said. “During team voting, every senior received at least one vote, which means they all possess qualities that make them great leaders.”
Hayley Stroup and freshman Paige Newton are the Bruins’ main offensive weapons, but Abby Meyers and Corbin Badger will threaten from the wings.
Defensively, Mardis, Kiefer, Carlson and Alyssa Wente will anchor the back line along with Michelle Davis.
“Our goals this season are focused on balanced team play,” Hall said. “We have a great deal of potential and depth, provided that we play together and make team success our first priority. In regards to the postseason, it is always our goal to win sectionals and play our best soccer during the postseason run.”
There will be a new coach walking up and down the sideline for Brownsburg this season as first-year coach Megan Osborn takes over for long-time coach Phil Slavens, who led the Bulldogs for 15 years.
Replacing a legend is never easy, but Osborn has the full support of everyone, including Slavens who said he “would have a hard time to find anyone better.”
To that end, Osborn is having fun and molding the Bulldogs in her image.
“Getting to know the players over the last couple of months has been an absolute blast,” she said. “The girls have come to understand my coaching personality is one of no excuses and all about hard work to gain results. Being dedicated to the team and program has to be a player’s core value. We are in this journey as one group.”
Brownsburg finished with a 5-10-4 but didn’t lose eight of their last nine games (four wins and four ties) while coming together for a sectional victory over county and conference rival Avon.
The Bulldogs wish to build upon those highlights and continue the level of play where they left off.
“We consistently had a high number of players at all preseason workouts,” Osborn said. “That lets me know two things — the older players are ready to capitalize on the highs from last season and the younger players are ready to become part of a traditionally successful soccer program.”
Leading the Bulldogs this season are captains Sophie McFarland, Taylor Risser and Sydne Dryer.
“(They are) three senior leaders who offer a mix of poise and pressure, (and) will be called upon daily for team dynamics needs,” Osborn said. “I am counting on these three incredible young women to provide a training environment where we cannot settle for mediocrity and where our younger players know the team code and honor is of utmost importance.”
Four additional seniors — Masey Bunn, Mikaela Caron, Carli Hoover, and Sydney Marette — will also be counted on to lead the Bulldogs.
McFarland and Risser will anchor the defense while Dryer and junior Madison Myers should lead the offensive charge.
While Brownsburg has several players returning with experience, they are relatively young across the board.
“With 15 players new to full-time varsity, the lack of varsity game experience in our conference will be a factor for us to sort out,” Osborn said. “Our returning players with many varsity minutes will need to step up each training session to set the speed of play.”
Junior Kassy Christie takes her spot in the goal and Osborn said “she, along with our senior captains as center backs, will be a driving force for running the defense.”
Juniors Alex Neuman, Alyssa Steinman and Isabella Zoog along with sophomores Amanda Dotlich, Taliah Borom, Kamarin Witham and Madison Harris coupled with freshmen Emily Groff, Carrie Lawson, Kaylie Simpkiss, and Sarah Weller will all have the opportunity to play an abundance of varsity minutes this season.
“Our team goals are to compete for a conference championship and have a very extended postseason,” Osborn said. “Even with our youthful look, if we cannot set goals which will take a considerable amount of work, we aren’t fostering program growth or instilling a winning spark.”