16 August 2012

Girls Soccer: Depth + Experience = Optimism

Juniors Izzie Ferm and Gabby Baumann battle for a loose ball on the first day of practice
Coach Rob Carpentier's 2011 team had its up and downs as witnessed by its final 8-8-1 season record and fifth place finish in the Missota Conference (3-3-1).

Eight players from that squad graduated last spring, including all-Missota Conference performers Kelli Harstad and Ashley Kimmel, but with 17 letterwinners returning, Carpentier and his staff like the potential of their 2012 team.

"We have 17 players who have started at least two varsity games," Carpentier said. "We'll be two-deep at every position and we have a lot of speed.

"We should be mentally tough because of our experience and our keeper (Ashley Becker) may win us a game or two. To be blunt, I see us as the conference favorite."

Carpentier said there were too many returnees to single many out but he did indicate the presence of all-Missota Conference honorable mention performers Izzie Ferm and Kelli Elmer was a definite plus.

Senior Sydney Eckert (left) and sophomore Tyler Words go one-on-one in ball-handling drill
Captains Sydney Eckert, Leah Zak and Hannah Miller, back after sitting out the 2011 season with an injury, also drew special words of praise for their efforts in early practice sessions.

As for sophomore keeper Becker, the Tiger head coach said she has an unlimited upside to her game.

"She has the potential to be the best keeper in the program's history," he said. "She is that good. We may see it this season as she has been outstanding in practice."

80-plus girls were on hand for the Monday's first practice
To illustrate his team's depth, Carpentier said he is taking no less than 40 players to his team's first scrimmage with Rosemount.

"Every one of them has a legitimate chance of making the varsity team," he said.

To back up his statement about his team's speed, Carpentier pointed out that with Ferm, Elmer, Kali Allard and Megan Graham there is the potential to have four all-state sprinters on the field at the same time.

"My goals are to stay injury-free, play hard and play aggressively and most of all, enjoy the experience," Carpentier said. "I think the girls have more tangible goals."

Chief among those objectives would be to finish at the top of the Missota Conference standings and make a deep run in the section playoffs.

"Honestly, I believe that if we as a staff do our job, we clearly have the talent to go to state and not have it be a shock," Carpentier said.

Chanhassen, Holy Angels and Farmington figure to be the front-runners in the race for Missota honors with Lakeville North, Lakeville South, Owatonna and Rochester Century all expected to field quality teams in Section 1AA.

Robb Virgin moves over from the Tiger boys program to coach the junior varsity this fall with Linda Crawford and Eric Shelton coaching the B-squad and ninth grade teams respectively.

Tracie Randall and Kjerstin Tharaldson will work with the Dodge Middle School squad while Jon Graff and Jason Kohlbeck will handle the Boeckman Middle School coaching chores.

The Tigers kick off their 2012 season Thursday, Aug. 23, with a non-conference road contest at Faribault.