The Rogers Royals are hoping to look more like the 24-0 team two years ago than the 8-7-2 team last year that struggled after a good start.
Third-year coach Holly Sutton has found preseason workouts very encouraging.
“The highlight so far is how much talent we have at each grade level,” said Sutton. “This is the largest number of girls we’ve had. We have so much depth. We won’t have to rely on our starting lineup. The players off the bench will give equal or better effort.”
Much of that talent is underclassman, she noted.
“But we have strong leadership from our 10 seniors, even though not all of hem are starters.”
Three all-conference players return: senior forward Gabby Moter, senior mid Storm Walsh and junior sweeper Maddy Pippen. Cassidy Stutelberg, who shared goalie duties last year, will be the main net minder.
The Royals will have to wait a while for Moter, though. The two-time all-conference pick with 25 career goals will miss half the season due to a hip injury last spring. Sutton expects Sydni Grover and track sprint standout Kirsten Heikkinen to be scoring threats.
Defensively the Royals will be tough in the back with Pippen leading a strong, physical fit group, said Sutton.
Last year —
Coaches – Holly Sutton (2nd year, 32-7-2) … Ian Costello (JV), Ben Goettsche (9th)
Captains – not chosen at this writing xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx
Returning starters — Maddy Pippen (jr sweep), Courtney Stutelberg (sr mid), Cassidy Stutelberg (GK), Storm Walsh (sr mid), Gabby Moter (sr fwd), Kirsten Heikkenen (sr fwd), Sydni Grover (sr fwd)
Other lettermen — Tessa Quintavalle (jr mid), Brittany Dorn (jr mid), Jenna Trochlil (jr fwd), Miranda Anderson (so fwd), Janaye Roulliard (jr def), Linsi Osland (jr def)
Should also help — Kate Heimer (8th fwd, mid), Abby Gearou (fr def), Jenna Breseman (fr mid)
Conference — Mississippi 8
Sectional — 8AA with Anoka, Brainerd, Buffalo, Elk River, Moorhead, SC Tech, STMA