County girls soccer squads sport new leadership

Herald File Photos
Annie Stout leaned out to cheer her teammates during introductions at last year’s Class 2A sectional opener. Stout is among a group of four sophomores who helped the Wildcats win 11 matches last fall, and Jasper reboots with plenty more young talent this season under first-year head coach Cassey Wagner.   

Herald Sports Writer

Scouting this year’s area girls soccer teams:

Jasper Wildcats

Last year
11-7-1 overall and 4-1 in Big Eight Conference; lost to Evansville North in sectional semifinals.
Returning players
Elizabeth Day, Sr., midfield
Brittany Haskins, Jr., midfield
Elizabeth Verkamp, Jr., goalkeeper
Anna Charron, Soph., midfield
Reagan Otto, Soph., forward
Annie Stout, Soph., midfield
Kayla Thimling, Soph., defense
Key newcomers
Peyton Ahlbrand, Jr., defense
Sara Carpenter, Soph., defense
Mallory Ahlbrand, Soph., midfield
Nicole Hentrup, Soph., defense
Kendra Bielawa, Soph., defense
Notable: First-year coach Cassey Wagner, a 2006 Jasper graduate and starter on the Wildcats’ regional champion squad in ’05, accepts a roster consisting of just one senior, Day. Fear not; the lack of upperclassmen doesn’t translate to any talent deficiency, Wagner assures. The Cats return a crop of able scorers in Charron (nine goals), Haskins (six goals) and Stout (five goals), while Otto shifts from defense to forward to supplement an attack Wagner believes is starting to click. Day will stabilize the midfield while Mallory Ahlbrand will work on the outside.
The biggest question for a team eying its first sectional title since ’07 could be the defense, Wagner said. However, a 1-0 shutout over Washington in Thursday’s scrimmage may signify the Cats are just fine, Wagner said. Thimling returns to the center back position and will likely be accompanied by Carpenter. Hentrup, Bielawa and Peyton Ahlbrand will also jostle for spots in defense for the Cats, who tallied 11 shutouts last year.
Quotable: “I don’t think that a ‘dream’ is an exaggeration at all,” Wagner said about coaching at her alma mater. “When I graduated from IU (in 2010), it was something that I put on my bucket list. However, somebody told me you can’t have a bucket list at the age of 26, so whatever it’s called for a young person, I put (coaching Jasper) on there five years ago. So to have all these things happen, I don’t think it’s sunk in and I’m not sure it will. ... Maybe I’ll realize about halfway through the season that Coach (Anthony) Price isn’t coming back.
“What I want for these girls is to be a part of a team that they know so well, both on and off the field. ... Their talent, their personalities, (the players) are just so much fun. They have passion and they have drive. At practice we’re goofing around but we’re working hard. ... Annie Stout might be one of the weirdest people I know. Yesterday at practice she was being so weird but she was so productive. It’s like win-win. Just their personalities, the drive, the passion that they’ve been showing, especially toward the end of the summer, beginning of the season, (it shows) that they do want to be a good soccer team.”

Heritage Hills’ Dria Oxley, left, and Forest Park’s Madison Knies pursued the ball in last October’s Class 1A sectional skirmish. The Rangers, who sustained a 4-0 loss to the Patriots during the regular season, took the tournament rematch in penalty kicks en route to their second sectional title.

Forest Park Rangers

Last year
9-10-1 overall and 2-3 in Pocket Athletic Conference; snagged sectional championship before falling 6-0 to Lawrenceburg in regional.
Returning players
Hailei Gehlhausen, Sr., defense
Madison Knies, Sr., midfield/forward
Lauren May, Sr., defense
Abby Tempel, Sr., defense
Morgan Zehr, Sr., midfield
Shayna King, Jr., forward
Madisyn Hunt, Soph., midfield
Shelby Louden, Soph., midfield
Jasmine Jacob, Soph., defense
Key newcomers
Whitney Hulsman, Jr., defense/midfield
Autumn Recker, Soph., forward
Hannah Gehlhausen, Soph., defense
Mackenzie Voegerl, Soph., goalkeeper
Emma Mehling, Soph., defense
Notable: Past success isn’t a problem for the Rangers, who secured the program’s second sectional title last year. The Rangers return Hunt, their leading scorer last season, with a gaudy 31 goals, as well as Knies (five goals) in another attacking role and Hailei Gehlhausen, May and Tempel to fortify the defense. Louden also returns to the center midfield, where Hunt will also reside this year after playing at forward last fall, while King and Zehr add depth to the midfield and forward positions and Voegerl begins her varsity goalkeeping career.
However, the Rangers, who got off to a 1-6 start last season, have just 17 players on the roster. And to make matters worse, Tempel is nursing a bummed quadricep muscle, Hulsman is recovering from a partially torn quad and Recker is still tending to an ankle injury, making first-year coach Brad Weyer’s job a bit more complicated. Weyer, a 2007 Forest Park graduate, had signed on as a volunteer assistant before former head coach Amanda Sicard decided to serve as assistant while she takes care of her newborn. But Weyer is looking to install a new formation that permits quicker, more populated counter-attacks, and said he still sees postseason potential despite the low numbers.
Quotable: “We’ve got a very cohesive bunch. They just kind of come together. Unfortunately, we’ve been battling some fitness issues and we’ve got some girls hurt. They’re down, but they’re not out. So it’s always ‘next girl up’ and we don’t have girls complaining or saying anything; it’s just ‘Who’s ready to play?’ They’re going to play and everybody understands their roles. ... They’ve been really receptive and they’re willing to work as a team and do what it takes to make a deep tournament run,” Weyer said.
“We set some goals for ourselves at the beginning of the year to make another tournament run. I think we definitely have the players. We definitely have the youth that we need to make a run like that, and we definitely have some returning players who can lead us in the right direction as far as making a deep push in the tournament.”

Northeast Dubois Jeeps

Last year
4-5-2 overall and 2-1-1 in Blue Chip Conference; lost in first round of the sectional.
Returning players
Brynn Hoffman, Sr., defense
Sydnee Kuebler, Sr., midfield
Ashton Knies, Sr., midfield
Danielle Lynch, Sr., midfield
Brittany Partenheimer, Jr., defense
Aubrey Marks, Soph., forward
Key newcomers
Taylin Friedman, Soph., defense
Paige Lynch, Soph., forward
Melanie Roberts, Soph., goalkeeper
Desiree Schepers, Soph., defense
Notable: It might be wait-and-see for the Jeeps, who lose eight seniors from last year’s squad. And much like the starting 11, the team will have a new face on the sideline, as 2006 Jasper graduate Micki Hedinger enters her first season as the team’s coach. Hedinger was the leading scorer on Jasper’s ’05 semistate team and played at St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame and in a collection of women’s leagues in Indianapolis upon graduating college. With the Jeeps, she recognizes promise in her collection of players despite the loss of four-year starting goalkeeper Katie Kluesner and last year’s leading scorer, Alicia Betz (15 goals).
Hoffman will anchor the back line while classmates Kuebler, Knies and Danielle Lynch furnish experience in the midfield. Hedinger has high hopes for Marks (three goals) to become the Jeeps’ primary scorer, and commended Roberts for working with Kluesner all summer to prepare for goalkeeping. Partenheimer, Friedman and Schepers add to a backline that posted four shutouts last season.
Quotable: “Their attitude has been amazing. From day one, they’ve been positive, they’ve been accepting of a new coach — especially the upperclassmen. When I was in college, we had a coaching change when I was a sophomore, going to be a junior, and it’s just hard. Especially when you’re just very used to the way the old coach ran the program. But those upperclassmen, the four seniors and two juniors, they’ve been accepting of me from the top down. They have great attitudes, and as a coach, you can’t ask for much more,” Hedinger said.
“It was just a way to give back to the sport that I really couldn’t give up. ... Northeast Dubois gave me this opportunity as head coach where I didn’t have high school experience — I was a middle school coach — and I have high expectations for myself in the role and in the future years, I feel like a lot can be accomplished.”

Danielle Lynch of Northeast Dubois, right, tried to beat Carolyn Burroughs of Heritage Hills to a ball last season during one of the Patriots’ eight shutout victories on the year. Lynch is one of several veteran midfielders back for the Jeeps, who won or tied six of their last eight games in the regular season.

Heritage Hills Patriots

Last year
11-3-3 overall, 3-0-2 in Pocket Athletic Conference; lost to Forest Park in sectional opener.
Returning players
Mariah Burdin, Sr., defense
Carolyn Burroughs, Sr., defense
Abbie Busler, Sr. defense
Madeline Crews, Sr., goalkeeper
Breigh Haase, Sr., midfield/forward
Greer Neff, Sr., defense/midfield
Karaline Staggs, Sr., forward
Rebeka Mercker, Jr., defense
Dria Oxley, Jr., midfield
Paige Priest, Jr., midfield
Key newcomers
Åsne Solberg, Jr., midfield (Norwegian exchange student)
Kerragan Mulzer, Fr., forward
Notable: The Patriots earned their fifth straight double-digit win season last fall, but it ended with a 2-1 sectional loss in penalty kicks to rival Forest Park. Coach Doug Satterfield assures that his team, which returns nine starters including the top four leading scorers in Staggs, Haase, Neff and Oxley, hasn’t forgotten the loss. In fact, it seems to have motivated the group more, Satterfield said. The team’s two-a-day practices were scrapped? No worries. Neff and Haase organized 6:30 a.m. conditioning sessions six days a week this summer in preparation for the season. Satterfield estimated the predawn sessions had about 95 percent participation.
Staggs (19 goals) and Haase (18 goals) will continue to torment defenses with their speed, and Satterfield expects Mulzer to wreak havoc at forward as well. Oxley (10 goals) and Priest (10 goals) will steer the center midfield while Solberg should swing out wide as well as Neff, who may also figure into the Pats’ defense. Crews retains her goalkeeping position, Busler will start at central defense for the third straight season and Mercker and Burroughs return as well, with Burdin bolstering a back line that yielded more than two goals in just one game last season.
Quotable: “Expectations are simply expectations until we can translate that into play on the field. Our preseason here has been excellent, so I think being senior dominated, the light bulb is just on with them knowing this is their last shot at high school soccer. They’re pretty focused right now,” Satterfield said.
“We were 11-3-3 last season, which a lot of teams would consider that a pretty darn good season, but we definitely ended the season on a sour note. And these girls have not forgotten that. You never know what’s going to happen in the tournament, but I think we’ll be a lot more mentally ready for just about every game.”

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