By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Faced with some uncertainty heading into the 2021 season, including few returnees and a new coach, the Camdenton Lady Lakers emerged as district champions for just the second time in program history – and the 2022 season looks even better.
“The biggest takeaway from last season was the incredible amount of valuable minutes so many of our underclassmen played,” said coach Tyler Sevon, who enters his second season at Camdenton. “They were put on the spot early and often and continually found ways to deliver and improve throughout the season. We will look to build on that success that we had last year and not get content with what we accomplished last season.”
The Lady Lakers, who finished 16-11 overall and 6-3 in the Ozark Conference, lost just three players from that Class 3 District 13 championship team in all-district performers Olivia Brown, Ella DeMott and Sydney Smith.
“Olivia was our do-everything box-to-box midfielder,” Sevon said of Brown, who also earned All-OC second-team honors. “She was our best distributor out of the middle of the field. Although she was always the smallest player on the field, she was the toughest and never backed down from a challenge or a 50/50 ball.
“Ella was a great leader on and off the field. She was a tough center back who did everything that was asked of her. Ella took so many of the freshmen under her wing and was a huge reason that so many of them developed as well as they have. She was the senior leader of a defensive backline that consisted of all freshmen besides her and they had a great year because of her guidance.”
But the Lady Lakers will have to fill the big gloves of Smith in goal. She was named to the Class 3 Region 3, all-district and all-conference first teams, while recording 126 saves and 11 shutouts.
“Sydney was an absolute rock in the goal,” Sevon said. “She played behind a very talented and young defense and when the time came that she had to make a save, she always came through. Filling her position after being a four-year varsity starter will be hard to do and the biggest position of need for us.”
The biggest strength for Camdenton heading into the 2022 season is the depth and experience in the 13 players Sevon returns.
“We have almost our entire roster from last year returning and several new additions and freshmen that are going to make a huge difference,” Sevon said. “We started and/or played eight different underclassmen in our postseason games last season. Many of those were starters throughout the entire season.
“These young players got so much valuable experience and had success at the same time. That is typically pretty rare to start and/or play so many underclassmen and still have a lot of success. That just shows how talented and dedicated these girls are to being successful.”
• Alli Johns, senior, midfielder (17 goals, 6 assists) – Earned Class 3 All-State honorable mention, all-region, all-district first-team and all-conference first-team honors. “Alli has really taken some next steps as a leader for the team in the offseason and will look to continue scoring goals for us at a higher level this year,” Sevon said.
• Ella Smith, junior, midfielder (7 goals, 9 assists) – Named all-district first team and all-conference second team. “Ella had a good sophomore year, which was her first due to COVID. She unfortunately had to deal with several injuries throughout the season. This year, we really look for her to take a huge jump and be a big problem for opposing defenses as a one-two punch with Alli.”
• Lexi Rapier, senior, forward (1 goal, 2 assists) – “Lexi made the transition from defense to forward last year and really started to figure out how to help us maintain possession further up the field.”
• Natalie Gahn, senior, midfielder (2 goals, 2 assists) – “Gahn gives us speed, toughness and veteran leadership on the wing.”
• Rylle Hinton, junior, midfielder – “Rylee brings a lot of tenacity and effort to the field, and we look for her to take the next step forward this year.”
• Lexi Wallander, junior, midfielder (1 goal) – “Lexi gives us good depth in the midfield and is a hard worker.”
• Zoe Lockhart, sophomore, defender (4 goals, 1 assist) – Earned all-district second-team and all-conference honorable mention honors. “Our backline was extremely athletic and super tough with Zoe playing center back as a freshman. She was tremendous in the air and is always a threat to score off a set piece.”
• Addy Clay, sophomore, defender (1 goal, 3 assists) – Named all-district second team. “Addy was another starting freshman on the backline and did an amazing job – usually, the fastest and one of the most-skilled players on the field. We will look to get her offensive opportunities coming out of the back this season.”
• Makenna Brauer, sophomore, defender – “Makenna was yet another freshman that started on the backline that had a great season. Her season was unfortunately cut short due to an injury, but I am excited for her to get back out there because she solidifies our backline.”
• Nikki Sutterer, sophomore, defender – “Nikki stepped up big time when Makenna went out with her injury and played huge minutes in the back and played really well.”
• Lilli Sutterer, sophomore, forward – “Lilli gave us depth last year at the forward position and I expect her to take the next step forward and start scoring some big goals this season.”
• Ariana Maples, sophomore, midfielder (1 goal, 2 assists) – “Ariana was a wrecking ball on the field. She is always willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win.”
• Abi Rapier, sophomore, defender – “Abi will look to take another step forward this year and provide depth and physicality to the backline.”
The Lady Lakers have even more fire power coming in for 2022 with five newcomers.
• Kyla Kirby, freshman, defender – “Kyla is a skilled player that will look to contribute as an outside back on the varsity right away,” Sevon said.
• Marley McClelland, freshman, midfielder – “Marley will give us depth in the midfield as she transitions to the speed of the high school game.”
• Kimmi Kofed, junior, midfielder – “Kimmi has emerged in the offseason as a player that is tough and will be versatile and able to play anywhere on the field.”
• Charlotte Kurtz, senior, defender – “Charlotte has played in years’ past and returns to the soccer team this year and will help solidify the backline.”
• Jocelyn Wolff, senior, goalkeeper – “Jocelyn is a softball player that will transition over to goalkeeping.”
Camdenton will participate in a jamboree on March 15 at Waynesville, with Rolla, Dixon and Waynesville, before opening the regular season at Capital City on March 18.
“I expect us to be competitive in everything we do this season,” Sevon said. “That includes pushing each other to be better in training and looking to be in every single game we play no matter who we are playing. I expect us to compete at a high level and hopefully challenge for a top spot in the conference and look to make a deep postseason run.”