Girls soccer coach Kevin Adams talks about the upcoming seasonOnly one defender returns, but goaltender Kate Mallory and plenty of attackers and midfielders are back from a team that went 11-5-2
By: Matt Steichen, Rosemount Town Pages
Last year’s team played strong toward the end of the season before falling in a closely-contested game to third-ranked Eagan in the section tournament.
In what areas was the team executing well at the end of the year? And in what areas is there still the most work to be done?
We had tremendous chemistry on the team last year and fought through mid season injuries to some key players. We got those players back down the stretch and the girls found a resolve and determination to play well and carry momentum into section play and get to a section final that had eluded them the last two seasons. The team really picked up the intensity late in the season and matched opponents step for step. Their preparation and focus was the best I had seen in while going into the game against No. 7 Eastview. The 0-0 tie was a milestone for these girls and especially the seniors who had not beaten or tied Eastview in their four years at Rosemount. The confidence that was gained from this result and the belief that we could now compete with the best carried over to the remaining games. We were playing stifling defense at the end of the year and created alot of offensive opportunities because the possession style game we play allowed more players to get involved in the offense. Opponents had far more difficulty targeting any one player because we had multiple threats.
The area where we still need work is cleaning up the turnovers at critical points in the game (poor trapping as an example) especially in our defensive third where those excellent opponent players made us pay. We also need to finish better. We are getting offensive opportunities but accuracy around the goal has not been as consistent and efficient as we would like.
You return Hannah Halterman, who had a team-high 12 goals and four assists last year. What other players do you expect to contribute at the attacker positions?
We have a number of returning players who figured in our scoring last season. We do not set limits on who can generate scoring opportunities because we have multiple threats from a number of positions. I expect offensive production from returners Jenny Dean, Kaylie Hanson, Jana Elliot, and Marisa Knott. They have all proven themselves as capable scoring threats and with the abilities on this team, I expect them to have many scoring chances this season.
Experience is also an asset in goal where Kate Mallory is back after posting a 1.2 goals-against average and six shutouts. What are her strengths as a goalkeeper?
Kate brings a confidence which gives her that edge that is necessary for a goalkeeper to be successful, especially with the pressure that goes with the position. Kate plays under control in the nets yet she is a fierce competitior and sees the play well and has solid hands. We expect another great season from her.
You lose quite a few seniors at the midfielder positions and on defense. What returning players are you looking to lead the way at those spots?
We will miss these players as they were a huge part of our success. The sole returner on defense will be Sydney Newton and we will count on her senior leadership to help our new corp of defenders. Kate Mallory will also be a huge part of making sure that defensive unit comes together.
We have an excellent group of midfielders returning in Marisa Knott, Jana Elliott, Jenny Dean and Kaylie Hanson. Their experience and work ethic will set the example for the newcomers. We are also fortunate that our program now has some depth and with the coaching consistency at all levels, new players to the varsity should have an easier transition and chemistry easier to achieve. I do not see us in a rebuilding mode this season but rather a reload mode.
Are there any other newcomers moving up from the JV level you think could make a varsity impact?
We expect it to be very competitive for those open varsity spots this season and there are any number of players who can win those spots. The talent extends beyond last years JV squad so players will need to set themselves apart at try-outs and make the compelling statement that they deserve the honor of wearing one of the varsity jerseys.
Who do you expect to be your top competition in the conference and section?
I believe Prior Lake will be very tough as they have been improving each season and have a solid summer program. Lakeville North was the conference champion last season and they are still the team to beat until someone proves otherwise. Eastview and Eagan are our rivals and will be strong in conference again.
For sections, it seems like we always have to get through Eastview or Eagan which we have not been able to accomplish to date. I expect these two teams to be there again and I would expect to draw one of them in the second round of Sections. Park and Apple Valley are always those wildcard picks because they come up with some amazing performances in section play. They are well coached and tournament tested.
You finished fifth in the conference behind four ranked teams and had a record of 11-5-2. What is it going to take for the team to reach double figures in wins for the fourth year in a row?
To reach our goals this season, you certainly need talent but you also need to get some breaks along the way. We will need to win the games we are expected to win and win a couple that we may not have been expected to win. It also takes a little luck because injuries can play a huge part in the season outcome. If we can develop early chemistry and stay healthy, double digit wins are a real possibility for this group.