LV girls soccer looks to get back to playoffs
Last season the Ligonier Valley girls soccer team missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008. To ensure that they improve upon their 6-12 mark from the year before, this year's Rams team has been working hard since January and is hungry to start a new playoff streak.
“There's been a lot of commitment early on,” coach Eric Vogelsang said. “January through May, the girls have been getting together twice a week to work on strength training, and they've been able to play indoor soccer twice a week.”
Vogelsang hopes that the increased offseason commitment will pay dividends for the Rams, who will have to rely on a balanced attack on offense after the graduation of the school's all-time assists leader and last season's top playmaker, Nikki Davis.
“It's a new generation of players for us,” Vogelsang said. “But we still have a strong core of players returning from last year.”
The Rams return seven starters from last season's team, including the second-, third- and fourth-leading scorers. On offense, junior Madie Glista, senior Jessica Anto and junior Molly Horrell will be relied upon to replace the scoring void left by Davis.
“There really isn't one person that will be looked at to be the star,” Vogelsang said. “Instead, we have three or four girls that can step it up at any one time. Opposing teams won't be able to focus on shutting one player down, because we won't rely on just one girl.”
Another player that Vogelsang sees as an asset to the Rams offense is freshman Rachel Adams, who is expected to start at striker.
However, the increase in offensive firepower won't translate to wins unless they improve their defense, which allowed an average of almost three goals per game last season. Senior defenders Nicole Cramer and Emily Bucklen are two returning starters that will be looked at to help the unit improve.
“Nicole will be the leader of the defense. She's very smart, she's a good leader and she is the most dedicated player that I've ever coached,” Vogelsang said of Cramer, who was voted a captain by her teammates last season as a junior.
“Emily is similar to Nicole, she works her tail off,” Vogelsang said. “She provides the defense with a lot of smarts.”
Vogelsang hopes an improved defense and a more balanced offensive attack will mark the beginning of a new streak of playoff appearances. The Rams campaign will kick off at Shaler at 4 p.m. Aug. 30.
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.