Patriots return solid, experienced soccer coreAugust 13, 2020
By JONATHAN SAXON
LINCOLN CITY — The Heritage Hills girls soccer team posted a 16-2 record and went unbeaten in the Pocket Athletic Conference last season. The Patriots made their way to the sectional final and gave it everything they had before getting edged by the Evansville Mater Dei Wildcats, 1-0. Patriots coach Andy Fischer said last year’s team worked hard in practice and pushed each other to be their best, and that’s what helped them accomplish their feats.
“I was very proud of the girls last year,” he said. “We had a good group of girls that really came together and had a common goal.”
Fischer said the Patriots return a solid and experienced core they can build on for a march back to the sectional finals. Senior Haley Osborne and junior Kennedy Tate will be back to anchor the Patriots’ front again. Juniors Ella Schnieders and Hadley Lytton will be back in the midfield. Seniors Avery Neff and Kyndall Jordan are also returning to solidify the back end of the field. Senior Kenley Mulzer will play on the wing, and provides a guiding presence for some of the younger players on the field, while senior Mallory Garrison will return to protect the net as the Pats’ goalkeeper.
The Patriots are looking to use superior ball control to fuel their play on the field. Along with that, limiting turnovers is a big focus for the team as the girls work toward their opener against the Boonville Pioneers Tuesday at home. But Fischer is also looking to encourage some experimentation from the players in practice. While the overall goal is to make the game as simple as possible, Fischer wants the players to try out different things in practice so they’ll be able to play through whatever situation they may face in the field.
“I’m telling them to get out of their comfort zone and try new things,” he said. “So when it comes to game time, they can adapt pretty easily. There’s always something to be doing, whether on the ball or off the ball.”
Some of the other things the Patriots’ are working to perfect are raising field awareness in transition, locking down their individual defensive assignments and covering the field. Being in top form physically is crucial to supporting those goals, so Fischer is working to make sure the Patriots are as healthy and fit as they can be for the start of the season.
“Being healthy is a big part of it right now,” he said. “We’re getting ready to play a full 80 minutes, whenever that time comes.”
Fischer believes the road back to the sectional finals can only be traveled one game at a time, especially with the new teams coming to the PAC this season. It’ll be important for the team to come together like they did last year if they hope to build upon their success.
“It all depends on how everyone comes together,” said Fischer. “We’re in a bigger conference this year with tough contenders. When it comes to sectional, you have to get through some tough opponents. You got to play good soccer whenever that time comes. We take it game by game, and hopefully we come out on top.”
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