By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The Parkview High School girls’ soccer team may be young, but the Lady Vikings return plenty of experience heading into the 2018 season.
Coach Shelby Stewart started seven or eight freshmen each game last year as Parkview went 9-13-1 overall and 5-4 in the Ozark Conference before ending its season with a 4-0 loss to Glendale in the Class 3 District 10 championship.
“I am looking for that varsity experience to translate to this year,” said Stewart, who is in her fifth year as the girls’ head coach at her alma mater. “We finished second in our district and seemed to peak toward the end of our season, which was a great accomplishment.”
Parkview has no seniors on its roster this season, and fewer than five juniors.
Key returnees this year for the Lady Vikings include sophomores Olivia Wheeler and Ella Werner-Click and juniors Nevaeh Mitchell and Asia Quick.
Wheeler burst onto the scene last season, scoring 22 goals and adding six assists, while earning first-team All-Ozark Conference and All-District honors, as well as being named to the Class 3 All-Region 3 team.
“Olivia has the ability to create offense with her speed and ball skills,” Stewart said.
Mitchell, also a first-team All-OC pick, returns in goal for the Lady Vikings. Stewart says they will be looking for Mitchell to “step up and take a stronger leadership role.”
Quick will be the center of Parkview’s backline.
“She will be the nucleus that holds the team together,” Stewart said of Quick. “She will also be looked to for her leadership ability, with no current seniors on the roster.”
Werner-Click is another All-OC selection (second team) for Parkview, a midfielder Stewart says, who “has a knack for finding open teammates.”
Aisha Ramhadan, a sophomore forward (second team All-OC), can play multiple spots on the field.
“Aisha gives us depth in every position,” Stewart said. “She has tremendous foot skills and is soccer smart.”
Stewart has a couple of sophomores who have soccer experience and will be looking to make an impact this season.
Jaylynn Huddleston is a forward who competes for Parkview’s track team on the 4×100 and 4×200 relay teams.
Megan Dempsey (outside midfield) joined the Lady Vikings late last season due to her involvement in theatre. Stewart looks for Dempsey to play a more prominent role on the soccer field this year.
“Our biggest strength (our youth) was looked at as a weakness last year,” Stewart said. “With the varsity experience under our belts, we look to improve in every area and achieve great things. We bring an athletic and quick lineup, which can cause some teams problems.”
The Lady Vikings will travel to West Plains on March 15 to participate in a jamboree with the host Zizzers and Mountain View-Birch Tree Liberty. Their season-opener is at home against Springfield Central on March 20.
Parkview looks to compete for a district title – the last one came in 2011 – and a conference championship – which has happened once (2010).
“We have the ability to play with anyone in our conference, if we work as hard as we are capable,” Stewart said. “Our goal is to outwork and outlast teams this year with our depth.”