By Matthew Davis
Sun Post Newspapers
Goals did not come easy for Champlin Park last fall, and their returning players came back determined to make that change.
“Our offensive attack is going to be much stronger than last year ,” Rebels coach Rebecca Noonan said.
Champlin Park returns seven players from a team that graduated eleven seniors last year. Rebels attacker Kelsey Woods, one of the returning seniors, could get the offense going this season.
“She’s a great player,” Noonan said. “She hopefully will put some goals in the back of the net for us this is year.”
Junior attacker Allie Carlson also came back as a faster player according to Noonan. Sophomore midfielder Hayley Hargroder can also give the Rebels some offensive punch. The Rebels also have senior midfielder Grace Davis who has committed to play Division III collegiate soccer at Augsburg.
Despite a 5-1 loss to No. 2-ranked Mounds View at home on Thursday, Aug. 21, Noonan saw indications of what the Rebels could achieve this season.
“From the beginning of the game to the end of the game, the girls improved a lot from the start to the end,” Noonan said. “For me as a coach watching them and watching them adjust and transition into what I’m trying to help them do was really promising in just one game.”
Defensively, the Rebels found a surprise in junior goalkeeper Emily Petersen. She had broken her hand at the start of last season, so they didn’t know what she had to offer. She now has stepped in place of their graduated goalkeeper.
Overall, the Navy and Silver graduated all of their defense line, but the returning defensive players had shown promise.
Champlin Park’s early-season schedule has tested the team with state contenders such as MV and Hopkins on Saturday, Aug. 23. The Rebels opened NWSC play on Tuesday against Irondale.
“I think we have a good chance to do well and finish in the top half of the conference,” Noonan said.
Finishing that high will come with challenges. Maple Grove ranks No. 10 for Class AA in the state, and Centennial received top ten votes. Defending Class A champion Totino-Grace joined the league this year. It will prepare the Rebels for a tough 5AA tournament field with MV, Centennial and MG.
“Right now our goal is to prepare for sections, hopefully have an above .500 or about .500 record this year,” Noonan said.
Contact Matthew Davis at [email protected]