By Matthew Davis
Second-year Irondale coach Kristy Hope looks to have her girls soccer team make significant strides after a two-win season last year.
“We are returning a lot of starters,” Hope said. “Should be more successful than last year.”
Irondale returns senior goalkeeper Maddie Quest, who led the state in saves as a sophomore in 2015. She had a shutout last year in one of the Knights’ two wins and had 327 saves.
Senior captains Marie Meysembourg, a defender, and Kylie Huseman, a midfielder, also give the Knights experience and leadership. The Knights will also have some youth in the lineup with two ninth-graders starting.
Irondale showed signs of improvement in its first game of the season, a 1-0 win over North St. Paul Aug. 24. The Knights lost to the Polars 4-0 last year.
Sophomore defender Ayah Phuly, a returning varsity player, scored the game-winning goal for the Knights in the second half. Ninth-grade forward Greta Saylor assisted on the goal. Senior goalie Maddie Quest netted the shutout with seven saves.
Things became more challenging in a hurry for the Knights with Centennial Thursday, in their Northwest Suburban Conference opener, which occurred after press deadlines. The Cougars won the Class 2A state title in 2016. The NWSC has four teams in the Class 2A and 1A polls from Aug. 25.
“We play in a really hard conference so every game is a fight,” Hope said.
Eagles look to stay strong
Totino-Grace plans to reload after graduating numerous key players from its 12-3 team in 2016.
Graduates includes leading scorer and passer Arianna Del Moral, who 14 goals and 14 assists. The Eagles also graduated double-digit goal scorers Megan Zurbay and Daniele Brown. In addition, the team lost goalkeeper Madison Brunn to graduation. She allowed 0.65 goals per game.
Senior midfielder Lexi Serreyn returns after a 31-point season last year. Junior attack Olivia Olsen also give the Eagles some punch after a 16-point season, which included three goals and an assist in the postseason.
Paola Del Moral, a junior midfielder, can also make plays. She had 10 points last year and was third on the team in assists.
Del Moral stepped up with a goal in the Eagles’ Aug. 26 opener this season, a 2-2 tie with Holy Angels I overtime. Junior midfielder Shealyn Laney had the other goal for the Eagles.
The Eagles grabbed a 1-0 lead at the StarDome in Richfield, but the Stars rallied to tie in the second half.
With a key losses to graduation, Fridley will look to rebuild with a young team this fall.
Returning players include ninth-grade midfielder Grace Prairie who had three goals and two assists last year. The Tigers also have junior track star Cece Lewis back at attack this fall. Other returners with varsity experience and points include junior midfielder Chloe Rich, eighth-grade forward Madison Peterson and senior forward Vianka Damas.
Fridley will need production from them as two of their top-three leading scorers graduated from a squad that went 3-13-1 last fall. Lauren Backstrom had six goals and an assist in 2016. Anna Haroldson finished third on the team in points with three goals and an assist last season.
Tigers goalkeeper Danielle Bauer also graduated. Sophomore Gwyneth Hibbard takes over in net.
Fridley fell 6-0 in its season opener against Watertwon-Mayer Aug. 4.
Hylanders working with experience
Columbia Heights will look to improve its offense this fall with top returning scorers.
Senior attack Mariela Mendoza led the team with points last fall with seven points. Junior attack Emily Reynolds, third on the team in points, also returns. Elizabeth Gonzalez, who finished fifth on the team for points, returns to attack as a senior.
Columbia Heights, which mustered 0.6 goals per game in a 2-14 season last year, lost the team’s second-leading scorer Evelyn Lagunas to graduation. Jasmine Bonete, fourth on the team for points, also graduated.
The Hylanders will have experience in goal this fall with sophomore Brianna Jorgenson back. Jorgenson and company opened the season Aug. 24 in an 8-0 to St. Paul Como Park.
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