By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The 2017 Glendale girls’ soccer team had several multi-sport athletes. This meant their district championship was extra sweet.
“Many of them played multiple sports at Glendale throughout their careers and it was their first district title,” said longtime Glendale coach Jeff Rogers. “We will use the experience as we begin our 2018 campaign knowing there is great competition in the area.”
The Falcons beat Parkview 4-0 in the district finals, avenging a regular-season loss to the Vikings.
Glendale finished 9-11-1 overall after losing 3-0 to Washington in the Class 3 sectional round. Washington beat Bolivar 2-1 in the quarterfinals to advance to the Class 3 final four.
The Falcons figured to have one of the area’s top tandems returning this season.
However, Brooke Briscoe, named all-state as a sophomore, moved to Texas. As of Mar. 11, she leads her high school team, Liberty Hill (16-2 overall), in goals (29) and assists (30).
“Losing Brooke is huge for us as she was one of the top players in the area last year as a sophomore,” Rogers said. “She had great vision and was able to find Emma up top. We will need to have some kids step up to create some scoring chances.”
Briscoe had 11 goals and tied for the team high with 10 assists last season.
Glendale returns senior and leading scorer Emma Miller, who had 15 goals and four assists last season.
The Falcons graduated eight players from their district championship squad. The list includes midfielder Kate Arthur (five goals, 10 assists; playing at Greenville College) and central defender Kaileigh Clark.
“I think we will be sound defensively but will need some players to step up offensively,” Rogers said. “We might have to convert some defensive-minded players to push us offensively as Kate Arthur did last year.”
One player who could take on the Arthur role is junior Alexi Martinez. She had a goal and four assists last season as a defender.
The Falcons also bring back four-year starters Alison Hawkins and Mary Powell.
“Alison has good speed on the flanks,” Rogers said. “Mary will anchor our defense.”
Senior Elyssa Hitt returns at goalkeeper.
“She had a solid year for us and came up big when we needed her the most,” Rogers said.
Glendale could see multiple freshmen with club experience crack the varsity rotation.
The Falcons open the season March 22 at Central. They’ll then head to St. Louis to compete in a showcase tournament March 23-24.
For the younger players, it’s a quick welcome to the rigors of varsity soccer.
“We will have some young players that will not have much time to adjust to a varsity schedule,” Rogers said. “Many of the kids coming out of a club season are not use to the wear and tear a high school spring soccer season will present.
“We ask these kids to compete at a high level three-to-four times per week. They love it as they play a lot of soccer but we have to make sure we keep them healthy.”