By Chris Parker
Nixa rode a strong senior class to a 16-9 record and a Class 4 District 10 title last year. The Eagles saw their season end with a 2-1 loss to Kickapoo in the Class 4 sectional round.
The Eagles will have to replace eight starters from that team, but do return all-state forward Hunter Daniels who had 17 goals and 15 assists last season.
“Hunter has incredible touch on the ball and can read the game really well,” Nixa head coach Evan Palmer said. “He just has a knack for getting to goal that is hard to teach. He is great at setting up others leading the team in assists last year. We will really need his leadership this year losing eight starters from last year he will have to step up in that respect.”
Tyler Stoneberger will provide stability on the defense coming off an all-conference selection at defender.
“Tyler did a great job last year anchoring the defense and he will have to do even more losing three starters from last year’s back line. We will need him to lead our younger players if we are to be successful,” Palmer said.
Senior midfielder Ethan Pellegren gives Nixa a third returning all-conference player who had eight goals and six assists last season.
“Ethan is a dynamic player who will play throughout the midfield and play some up top,” Palmer said. “He can beat people with speed and power. He is a great scorer who will need to take on more of the finishing responsibility with us losing over half of our goals from last year’s graduating class.”
Senior Nathan Rapert and sophomore Nick Reid are battling for the goalkeeper spot.
Seniors Brandon Fox and Tanner Palmer will help in the midfield and on defense. Fellow senior Nathan Hirsch will also see varsity time this season.
Juniors Carson Beets, Kyle Hirsch, Cooper Hines and Brock Nelson will all factor into the varsity lineup. Beets will play center midfield. Hirsch will slot in at defender while Hines will play a utility role in the back and midfield. Nelson will also see time in the midfield and on defense.
Nixa must replace a large group of players, but expectations remain the same for the Eagles.
“Our expectations are always high here at Nixa,” Palmer said. “We have some guys that have played varsity for a few years, but there are a lot of newer players who will have to step up and play big minutes for us if we are going to challenge for a conference and district title.”
Nixa will travel to Kickapoo on Tuesday, Aug. 21 for a jamboree with Central, Glendale and the host Chiefs. The Eagles open the regular season on Aug. 25 at Columbia Hickman.