The Minnewaska girls' soccer team did not lose a lot of seniors from a team that hosted a first-round playoff game last season.
The Lakers return 12 letter winners after losing three a year ago. Only three of those returning letter winners are seniors, though, which gives head coach Brian Heieie a lot of youth to work with in his eighth season at the helm.
"We are a fairly young team," he said. "We are short on sophomores and freshmen, so when I got to the bench, I will occasionally be using 7th and 8th graders. The starters have a lot of experience playing together, but we still may be overmatched against teams that are heavy with upperclassmen."
Ingrid Wahlquist, Meggie DeJong and Katrina Prescott are the three senior captains hoping to lead the way for Minnewaska. Mariah Heieie, Mackenzie Watson, Carina Zamora, Morgan Lee, Tanya May and Justine Hill are all a part of a big junior class that also features a lot of experience. Sophomores Kaylyn Oberg, Brianna Janu and Jillian Hendrickson round out the list of letter winners returning.
A number of younger players will also be relied on to make an impact this season. Freshman Jerrica Thiel is one of those players who should see a lot of action as the team searches to improve on a 7-8 record from a year ago.
"She will start at outside midfield but will see some action up front, as well," Heieie said.
The Lakers will have to go through East Grand Forks, Sartell and St. Cloud Apollo as the top teams once section tournaments start. The hope is that a mixture of talented youth and experienced starters will give the team a chance when that time rolls around.
GIRLS' SOCCER ROSTER
SENIORS - Ingrid Wahlquist - M; Katrina Prescott - D; Meggie DeJong - D
JUNIORS - Carina Zamora - D; Justine Hill - D; Mackenzie Watson - M; Mariah Heieie - F; Morgan Lee - M; Tanya May - M; Alecia Harper - M
SOPHOMORES - Brianna Janu - D; Jillian Hendrickson - K; Kaylyn Oberg - F
FRESHMEN - Leandra Boysen - D; Jerrica Thiel - F
EIGHTH GRADE - Olivia Wahlquist - F; Gabby Tewes - F; Ashley Fiala - McKenna Roberts - D/K; Kelsey Volkmann - M; Katy Haus - M
SEVENTH GRADE - Haylee Lee - D; Jordyn Roggenkamp - M; Jenna Janu - D; Sarah Vrchota - M; Morgan Majerus - D; Ashley Barnum - M; Mackenzie Walsh - M
COACHES - Head coach - Brian Heieie; Assistant coach - Melissa Feigum