The McDonell/Regis girls soccer team will have familiar faces at almost every level of the field this spring.
Up top, the co-op has senior Esme Reinders, one of the top goalscorers in co-op history, to lead the forwards. In the midfield, senior Payton Swoboda is back after tallying four goals and six assists last year. And at the back, senior Emily Haag, the team’s MVP a year ago, will anchor the defense.
With experienced players surrounding those three, eighth-year coach Scott Hoffmann is excited about the potential this year’s team has.
“Overall, I think there’s a certain level of confidence with this team,” he said. “(In our season opener), I could see the experience of this team. They know each other.”
The team started the season with a bang on Tuesday, hammering Arcadia 6-0 on the road. The girls haven’t had many opportunities to play outside yet this spring, but didn’t show any signs of rust in the opener.
“We had a lot of nice passing for the first game that I’d argue is sometimes mid-season passing for younger teams,” Hoffmann said.
Reinders will naturally be looked to for goals after finding the back of the net 29 times last year. She entered this season 30 career goals behind the program record of 105 set by Kristin Mathiowetz.
Midfielder Teryn Karlstad matched her 2017 goal tally in the first game this year, scoring two goals from distance to help lift McDonell/Regis to victory.
Seniors Aubree Hagen and Shannon Horan also bring depth to the squad in the midfield and defense.
“We’ve got some finishers on this team. We’ve got some girls that can score goals,” Hoffmann said. “I think we’re going to create a lot of chances as a team.”
Kim Henriksen and Elena Bourget will complement Haag in the defense.
“We’re deep at defense. We’ve got not only the starters, but some depth coming in on defense,” Hoffmann said.
The only position where McDonell/Regis doesn’t have much experience is goalkeeper. Freshman Anna Allen will fill that role. Beyond the keeper though, the squad is full of experience. That should prove to be helpful as the season progresses.
“You can see the maturity of the players. They know what to do, whether it’s how to distribute the ball out of the defense to the midfield, midfield knowing what to do, and forwards knowing where to run and how to play off of each other,” Hoffmann said.
The team has an idea of the style and formation it wants to employ on the field, but adjustments will be made as needed as the season goes on.
“I’ve found that depending on where the girls want to play and what their strengths are, you sometimes have to adjust the team. This year we seem to be more heavy on defense and in the middle of the field as opposed to wingers, so we’ll probably adjust a little bit accordingly,” Hoffmann said.
The co-op fell in the Division 4 regional finals at the hands of eventual state tournament qualifier La Crosse Aquinas last year. The girls are aiming to improve on that this season.
“As always, they’re shooting for state,” Hoffmann said. “They’ve got a nice path through the regionals—and that’s just talk right now, you’ve still got to execute on it—but I think this team has a really great chance of at least getting to the sectional final.”
McDonell/Regis has never reached the girls soccer state tournament, but Hoffmann said this is one of the deepest team’s he’s had during his time as coach.
The team is scheduled to take the field next against Melrose-Mindoro at home next Monday, but will be at the mercy of the prolonged winter weather that has stretched into mid-April.