By Kary Booher (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
If you see Kevin Hauck walking around with a bounce in his step, it’s understandable.
The coach of the Republic High School girls soccer team is anticipating a healthy number of players (35) on the roster, including nine who were starters a year ago – and are either juniors or sophomores this year.
“We’re kind of in a pretty good youth swing,” Hauck said. “And our freshmen numbers are 10 to 12, which is the largest I’ve had here.”
In other words, depth could be the difference.
While the team graduated All-Central Ozark Conference Large selection Emily Jordan and her 13 goals and 10 assists, a smorgasbord of talent can be found across the roster.
That includes senior goalkeeper Tara Campbell, juniors Abbie Hicks and Anna Jones and sophomore Emma Pearce. Plus, the captains include junior Grace Lightfoot, an All-District and All-Conference selection on defense, and Kayla Donjuan with Jones.
Campbell had 163 saves and seven shutouts last season – an impressive figure for a goalkeeper in her first season in front of the net.
“She was nervous, but her confidence grew,” Hauck said. “This summer, she played with Sporting Springfield, and I think that will help her as well.”
Hicks had seven goals and two assists a year ago, when Jones contributed five goals and eight assists to earn All-Central Ozark Conference and All-District honors.
“We started (Hicks) on defense last year but moved her after we had some injuries,” Hauck said. “She’s a really hard-working girls. She’s fearless.”
Jones is a two-year starter.
“She has been a huge piece for us since her freshman year,” Hauck said. “She sees the field well, and she’s a playmaker.”
Pearce appears ready to take the next step.
“Last year was the first year for soccer for her since she was little,” Hauck said. “But she’s an athlete, and it shows.”
Look for Junior Madi Mitchell as a mid-fielder as well. She missed last year after suffering a knee injury. Two years ago as a freshman, she earned First Team All-District honors after scoring 10 goals and contributing seven assists.
“I think she’s going to be really big for us,” Hauck said.
Also look for freshmen Tyra Campbell and Clara Fronabarger on offense.
“These girls as freshmen bring in experience, speed and aggressiveness,” Hauck said. “I am excited to see them on the field for us this year and believe they can make immediate impacts for this team this year.”
Lightfoot should be a leader as well this year.
“She is a big impact player,” Hauck said. “The girls have always looked up to her. She kind of controls everything. She’s a true leader.”
Joining Lightfoot on defense will be seniors Marissa Moffit and Donjuan. Newcomers Signa Wulf and sophomore Emma Duvall also could see time.
“The fourth defender spot is going to be a battle position,” Hauck said. “I think we have some good players that are fighting for that position, and I am excited to see who can win the starting spot.”
A year ago, Republic finished 8-13, but this group could exceed that win total.
“I am really excited about this year. We have a fresh look,” Hauck said. “We are energized and bring in a great mix of youth and experience. I believe we are an athletic team, and now we just have to see where our pieces fit best.”