By Jakob Kounkel
An unwanted end to a 2016 girls’ soccer season, filled with the potential of making a deep run into the section playoffs, only makes returning players hungrier for the 2017 season. After being upset in sections last year by Holy Family, the Monticello Magic girls’ soccer team will be working for another number one seed for the 2017 section tournament.
All teams make it to sections, but the regular season determines where a team is seeded. For the highly-competitive Mississippi 8 Conference, obtaining a top seed is no walk in the park.
“St. Michael, Rogers, Chisago Lakes, Buffalo, Princeton—there are no give-me games,” said Head Coach Brent Wuollet. Despite the difficulty of the regular season schedule, Wuollet’s confidence about his team is unwavering.
And based off returning experience and young talent, the confidence appears to be justified. For starters, there are only three seniors that need to be replaced: one forward, one mid-fielder, and one defenseman.
Monti will likely have to field a young team again this year, but it will still be a more experienced team than last season – as well as a team that can feed off the motivation of last season’s early exit.
That mix includes Abi Frandsen; not only is she an extremely proficient scorer (Frandsen led the team in scoring last year), she’s only entering this season as a sophomore. Another sophomore that earned a lot of minutes last year is goalkeeper Lauren Jones — a player that Wuollet has high praise for. Add on top that this same core group of girls ended the regular season last year at the top of the section.
“We expect to make it to state this year,” said Wuollet.
Big expectations for a young team can sometimes create pressure, especially for new contributors that didn’t have a big impact last year. Wuollet doesn’t seem to be worried about the stage being too big for this team. He said the girls aren’t pressing too much at practice, but they aren’t too relaxed either. They’ve found a happy middle-ground of productivity and intensity that sets them up well for the coming season.
Monti, winners in two games already to start the season and scheduled to host Waconia this past Tuesday to open the home schedule, will be back in action on Thursday, Aug. 31 when they travel to Becker for a 7 p.m. game. Monti’s second home game is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 5, when it hosts Rockford at 7 p.m.
Jakob Kounkel is a freelance reporter for the Monticello Times