Girls soccer preview: Teams seek to keep winning touch

By HENDRIX MAGLEY
hmagley@dcherald.com

Scouting this season’s area girls soccer teams:

 

Herald file photos
Summer Herzog is part of a nine-girl senior class at Jasper, which will be gunning for the program’s 16th consecutive winning season this fall. In the process, the Wildcats will be making a postseason shift competing in Class 2A (the middle of the three soccer classes) in a new sectional field that includes recent state finalist Gibson Southern plus fellow conference foes Washington, Vincennes Lincoln and Princeton.

Jasper Wildcats

Last year

Grabbed the Big Eight Conference title and finished an 11-6-1 season after falling to Evansville Memorial in the sectional final.

First match

Saturday at home against Bloomington South

Returning players

Addie Bueltel (Sr., defense)

Maggie Getzin (Sr.)

Ashley Haskins (Sr., midfield)

Summer Herzog (Sr., defense)

Emily Kuhlman (Sr., defense)

Hannah Love (Sr., midfield)

Olivia Ruckriegel (Sr., forward)

Peyton Blackgrave (Jr.)

Gabby Budd (Jr.)

Jessica Cruz (Jr., goalkeeper)

Regan Mundy (Soph., defense)

Key newcomers

Hallie Bawel (Sr.)

Lexi Korn (Sr.)

Amy Cruz (Jr.)

Kennedy Day (Jr.)

Brooke Flannagan (Jr.)

Mary Kate Hopf (Jr.)

Keregyn Masterson (Jr.)

Kendall Russ (Jr.)

Leah Schnell (Jr.)

Alyssa Skorge (Jr.)

Notable: Even after graduating a senior class loaded with talent, including Chloe Smith and Madisyn Hunt who are now playing collegiately at Anderson and Kentucky Wesleyan respectively, coach Michael Donato is hopeful that the program’s structure eases this year’s reloading process.

“I didn’t build the team around any specific players last year, and I think because of that the transition should be a little easier,” Donato said.

The Wildcats still possess plenty of veterans — all seven of this year’s seniors including Ruckriegel (10 goals last season) and Love (eight goals) contributed on last year’s squad that notched Jasper’s 15th straight winning season. Donato, who’s still tinkering with positions, is looking for a solid defensive front anchored by Kuhlman and Schnell, the latter of whom is also splitting this season running for the cross country squad. Donato is also looking forward to the return of Bueltel, who missed most of her junior season with an injury.

Another notable in Jasper’s quest for its first sectional title since 2007 is that a couple pesky stumbling blocks are no longer in their path. Tournament realignment moved Jasper out of the sectional including Castle and Evansville Memorial, as those two squads stay in Class 3A (the largest soccer class) while Jasper will be in a 2A sectional field alongside Gibson Southern, Pike Central, Princeton, Vincennes Lincoln and Washington. For Donato, the shift is a mixed bag of feelings.

Quotable: “I’m not going to say that I’m not happy for the girls that they don’t have to play Memorial because they’re such a strong program. But it would’ve been nice to still have them to compete against,” Donato said. “Our sectional has now shifted from the hurdle of Memorial to an all-around strong sectional.”

 

Kenlee Gehlhausen, center, helped Forest Park climb into the Class 1A soccer rankings last season as the Rangers finished with nine victories, a six-win improvement from the prior year. 

Forest Park Rangers

Last year

Finished 9-7 overall and 3-2 in the PAC; fell to Providence in the first round of sectional.

First match

Monday at Evansville Mater Dei

Returning players

Erika Uebelhor (Sr., defense/goalkeeper)

Claire Mehling (Jr., midfield)

Kenlee Gehlhausen (Soph., midfield)

Morgan Greulich (Soph., defense)

Lauren Jahn (Soph., midfield/forward)

Tori King (Soph., defense/midfield)

Emma Louden (Soph., midfield/forward)

Denai Sicard (Soph., forward)

Rachel Thomas (Soph., defense)

Key newcomers

Abby Eckert (Soph., goalkeeper/midfield)

Ava Hamilton (Fr., defense)

Kendra Hoffman (Fr., defense)

Shielyn Nippers (Fr., defense/midfield)

Katie Russell (Fr., midfield)

Notable: With just one senior this season, coach Brad Weyer will be relying heavily on the underclassmen as 12 of the 14 on the varsity roster are either sophomores or freshmen.

“I think the one area where we’re going to be hurting most is in terms of leadership,” Weyer said. “We’re going to be looking to the sophomore class to work on their leadership skills on the field.”

Heading that sophomore bunch are Gehlhausen, Jahn and Sicard, who Weyer expects will be the three generals on the offensive side as the trio joined for 16 goals last season with Louden, another fellow sophomore, punching in nine goals as well. Uebelhor, the team’s lone senior, will assist the defense on multiple fronts as both a goalkeeper and defender as Weyer praised her for her effort this summer and the improvement she’s made in the past six months.

After graduating Jasmine Jacob and Shelby Louden, two of the team’s top goal scorers from a year ago, Weyer says to expect scoring to come from a variety of sources now.

Quotable: “I don’t think we’ll necessarily see a drop-off in scoring, but I do think we’ll be much more spread out,” Weyer said. “We have three or four girls that can score at will and we’re hoping that they can pick up where the seniors left off last season.”

 

Lydia Genet (5) poured in 21 goals in Heritage Hills’ sectional championship season a year ago, while Mariah Fischer (11) is among eight seniors for a Northeast Dubois program looking to build momentum.

Northeast Dubois Jeeps

Last year

Finished 2-13 overall with a sectional semifinal loss to Providence.

First match

Tuesday at Wood Memorial

Returning players

Mariah Fischer (Sr., defense/forward)

Susanna Fravell (Sr., forward)

Jada Fromme (Sr., forward)

Kaylin Harrison (Sr., defense)

Kennedie Knies (Sr., midfield/defense)

Isabel Monarrez (Sr., forward/midfield)

Lianna Shepard (Sr., midfield/forward)

Lydia Burke (Jr., striker/forward)

Leah Kerstiens (Jr., striker/forward)

Taylor Neukam (Jr., forward/midfield)

Delaney Rasche (Jr., defense)

Amberly Jacob (Soph., forward/striker)

Haley Reckelhoff (Soph., defense)

Key newcomers

Paige Andrews (Sr., defense)

Samantha Blackgrave (Soph., forward/midfield)

Adelle Fravell (Soph., defense)

Kira Jones (Soph., defense)

Hali Nesbitt (Soph., defense)

Olivia Rasche (Soph., goalkeeper/forward/midfield)

Kari Scherzinger (Soph., goalkeeper/defense)

Abby Uebelhor (Fr., forward/striker)

Notable: Baby steps. That’s one of the philosophies for new coach Dylan Robling as he inherits a program that’s won two games in the past two seasons.

“We’re just trying to do all the small things to get them back going,” Robling said.

Robling expects the Jeeps to look toward Fromme, Rasche and Shepard to bring a positive mentality to the rest of the team. Robling called all three of them “super smart to the game of soccer and really talented with the ball.”

Another key for Robling, a 2009 Jasper graduate who was hired to Clive Williams’ staff with the Jeeps boys soccer team in 2014, is to have a fast start to the season to gather some early momentum, as the Jeeps open with conference foes Wood Memorial, South Knox and Washington Catholic in three of the first four games.

Quotable: “If they lose or lose big, it could bring them down the rest of the season,” Robling said. “But if we can manage a win, then it’ll change their whole mindset that they’ve had the past couple of years.”

 

Heritage Hills Patriots

Last year

Earned their fourth sectional championship and wrapped up an 11-8 season after a regional loss to Lawrenceburg.

First match

Tuesday at Boonville

Returning players

Abby George (Sr., defense)

Kerragan Mulzer (Sr., forward)

Lauren Caswell (Jr., goalkeeper)

Lydia Genet (Jr., forward)

Xiana Scott (Jr., midfield)

Ali Wade (Jr., defense)

Ella Green (Soph., midfield)

Samantha Gries (Soph., defense)

Olivia Meunier (Soph., midfield)

Kiersten Schuler (Soph., midfield)

Key newcomers

Synne Anderson (Jr., forward)

Sofie Arder (Jr., forward)

Makynzie Bancroft (Jr., defense)

Carly Sabelhaus (Jr., defense)

Madisyn Smith (Jr., defense)

Kaleigh Wilkerson (Jr., defense)

Mallory Garrison (Fr., goalkeeper)

Kyndall Jordan (Fr., defense)

Kenley Mulzer (Fr., midfield)

Avery Neff (Fr., midfield)

Jenna Norrick (Fr., defense)

Notable: Girls soccer in the fall, baseball in the spring. That’s the life for new coach Andy Fischer, who’s been an assistant for the past nine seasons with the Patriot boys soccer team and now takes over as the varsity coach for the girls soccer and baseball programs. Fischer inherits a team fresh off of a fourth sectional championship over the last six years, though he’s more zoned in on the present.

“I’ve told them that stuff is in the past,” Fischer said.

The Patriots retain the majority of last season’s core including Mulzer and George, the team’s two seniors. Mulzer is the offensive-minded one (she shared the team lead with Genet with 21 goals a year ago) while George is the defensive-minded one, which Fischer said helps with the leadership roles on both sides of the ball. Wade tallied eight goals in 2016, while Caswell is back for her second season in goal and “can help command the players when you need them to be somewhere on the field,” Fischer said.

Fischer has been blunt about not setting goals such as claiming a sectional or winning the conference. He’s more worried about fixing the little things first.

Quotable: “We’ve been working on communication on the field, implementing a new style on defense and trying to win all 50-50 balls in the air,” Fischer said. “If we can take care of those things, the wins will take care of themselves.”




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