Girls soccer: Irish looking to build on 11-5-4 season
Last year's team had a great run, going 11-4-4 before losing to fifth-ranked Eagan in the Section 3 playoffs. What kind of off-season work have the players been doing to get ready for another run? Do you feel like the players are ready to pick up where they left off?
The team last year was not satisfied with a close semi-final loss to an excellent Eagan team. They did not take advantage of their opportunities. This year's team is focused on putting in the work to repeat the success of 2010 and also take that next step to the section finals. Many of the players have been playing and training on top level summer teams and have been working in the weight room and putting in the time at our coaches summer 4 v 4 tournament.
Goaltender Kate Mallory is back after posting 11 shutouts last season. What are her strengths and what kind of confidence does she give to the defense?
Kate will be key to another successful run. She is fearless and takes charge in goal. She has strong hands and does not allow many loose balls or rebounds. Her athleticism also allows her to take some risk knowing she can recover quickly. The team has confidence in Kate so it allows them the freedom to take some risk knowing that a turnover will not necessarily cause a negative consequence with Kate between the posts. A defense always appreciates a solid keeper .
Among the eight seniors lost from last year's team is MVP Shade Pratt. Will her loss change your offensive approach? What players do you think can make up for the 17 goals she scored last season?
Shade Pratt will be missed as she was a productive offensive and defensive player. We have a number of returners who I believe are ready to step up and be productive offensive threats. Rather than one player with most of our goal production, I expect to have a number of players who will collectively exceed the 17 goal mark set by Shade. You will see more distribution of the ball on this season's squad. We will not change our offensive approach as possession and use of the flanks will continue to be a high priority and we should have more players attacking with speed. We should also have a strong defense as many of last year's defenders that allowed just 115 shots are back.
What are your goals for the team this season?
Expectations for this team are a top half conference finish, double digit win season, section home game, section final appearance, and making sure this team maintains the chemistry that is needed for success now and into the future.