By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
John Box will have a different feel around his team entering his third season at the helm of Waynesville Soccer.
The Lady Tigers lose four All-Ozark Conference players, including first-team selections Emma Kersten and Sierra Zadravecz, meaning Box will have to depend on some new faces to transform 2019 from a rebuild to a reload.
Leading the way this spring will be All-Ozark Conference pick Jessica Dwyer. Along with fellow returning starter Savannah Crockett, Box has a pair of players that have competed and succeed at a high level within the conference.
They are two of just five starters back this season.
Waynesville will also depend on several newcomers. Headlining that group will be Mary Henry and Katelyn VanBelkum.
“Each player has their own set of talents, but the best quality they possess is the ability to work together as a team,” said Box. “Mary and Katelyn are young players, but they have a good work rate, and both are very coachable.”
On the field, things will look somewhat different for Waynesville.
The Ozark Conference underwent a facelift with extreme southwest member Joplin departing the league for the COC. To remain balanced, the OC added another Springfield Public School in Central.
The Lady Bulldogs will provide yet another quality conference opponent. Something that will only further challenge a Waynesville program that looks to get over the hump in both the conference and district.
Box believes a taxing schedule in an important step towards achieving that goal.
“Central will bring an intensity and quality that will fit nicely in the OC as they are a Springfield School,” said Box. “To become a truly competitive team, we must learn to play with pace and an intensity that will match our opponents. Over the last two years, when facing top notch competition, we always found ourselves a couple of steps behind. If we can play with pace, and stay injury free, we should have a successful season.”
Waynesville will open the 2019 season on March 16, on the road, against Columbia Hickman and Columbia Battle. The Lady Tigers will open their home slate on March 19 against Helias Catholic.