HUNTERTOWN — Experience is in high supply for the Carroll girls soccer team this season. In fact, this year’s squad has the most Head Coach Rick Smith has ever seen, with 12 seniors returning to the fold and no freshmen currently in the varsity lineup.
“All the seniors have been here all four years so they know the drill, they all know what’s going on. We have lots of experience and leadership,” senior captain Olivia Sloffer said.
With the 2019 season just three days away, the Chargers are looking for a new mode of attack — one that works without last year’s leading scorer, Cali Geiger, a Saint Francis recruit who put up 25 goals last season and tied the school record for most goals in a game in 2017.
“When you lose a young lady that scored over 20 goals in a year, you have to figure out a way to replace her, but the girls that were scoring behind her are all back,” Smith said. “This year we’re going to have to spread the wealth. It has to be a total team effort.”
“It’s a big motivation for us because we know we have to step it up even more to find a new game plan and an offense that works for us” junior captain Sarah Mullins said. “We’re going to need to work together a lot more and have everyone chip in.”
Though seniors make up the core of this year’s group, the scoring responsibility will be spread out among classes, with key offensive returners including juniors Kelsi Hoot and Mullins, sophomore Maddy Welker and senior Sydney Schmitz.
Last year, the Chargers posted a 13-4-2 record, extending their sectional streak to six titles while outscoring teams 21-0 in three straight shutouts at East Noble. The team eventually fell to Homestead 5-4 at the Logansport Regional.
This year’s schedule will be another slog as the team’s first couple weeks of games include several likely ranked opponents.
“I think it helps us in the end. It’s a lot more fun out there getting to compete against the best girls in the state,” senior captain Bailee Long said.
Other notable losses from last year include defenders Grace Messmann and Hanna Johnson, midfielder and forward Aubrey Vince, and goalkeeper Kaitlyn Sagan.
Sloffer and fellow senior Belle Witte will share duties in goal this year after splitting time when Sagan was injured in the past.
One of the team’s greatest strengths this year, according to its captains, is the amount of utility among its players.
“We’re deep in all our positions,” Long said. “Some girls can play center back and then also go play outside wing, so we can fill in if we need to.”
The Chargers’ season starts Saturday with their home opener against Northridge. The team will take on Penn on Tuesday.