Manchester girls soccer team starts season with wins
NEW FRANKLIN — Through Sept. 2, the Manchester High School girls soccer team was out to a 5-0 start to the season, but first-year head coach Ed Kissner said the team is only just beginning to show what it can do.
“I think we’ve played well, but I don’t think we’ve played up to our potential the whole time,” he said. “We’re a team that when we get pushed, we step up and start playing. We haven’t played a complete game yet, and that’s good news — there is still a higher ceiling for us.”
Kissner said the team returned four players who “played significantly” last year. Those players (with comments on each by the coach) are:
- Senior forward Kaylee Ferguson: “She has scored nine goals already in our five games. She’s an excellent finisher, and she has a unique ability to get shots off in tight spaces.”
- Junior defender Morgan Schaber: “She is a spark out there in the field. She is absolutely the quarterback for the team, and especially the defense. She has excellent foot skills.”
- Senior midfielder Karlee Dougherty: “Karlee is a team leader and she’s extremely athletic. She’s an excellent distributor of the ball. She’s very good at setting people up up front, and she controls the midfield for us.”
- Senior goalkeeper Missy Kepnes: “Missy has stepped up unbelievably for us this year and made some key saves already. She has been very reliable in the back for us.”
On the other end of the experience spectrum, Kissner said, the team has a strong core of six freshmen, including four freshmen who start for the team this season.
This year’s freshmen are midfielder Micheala Schaber, defender Grace Boss, midfielder/forward Morgan Starcher, forward Kelly Mirman, midfielder Caydon Lloyd and defender Rachel Gasser.
“The freshman class was a talented group coming up — we knew that because they played at a very high level for a number of years at the youth level,” the coach said. “We knew they would contribute quickly and the key to our success would be to get these freshman involved with our experienced upperclassmen, and that’s happened very, very fast. It’s been a good transition. The upperclassmen have set a good example for the freshmen.”
Two juniors who are expected to play key roles for Manchester’s defense this season, Kissner said, are Sarah Steurer and Brittni Porter.
“Sarah played plenty of minutes last year, and she’s playing at a very high level for us right now. We put her on some very quick girls on the outside, and she’s handled every one of them this year,” the coach said. “Brittni is extremely athletic and very physical. She can make steps up in a short amount of distance.”
One more player Kissner said he is counting on this season is sophomore midfielder Aubrey Podner.
“Aubrey is playing at a high level for us,” he said. “She has scored some significant goals for us already this year and is definitely going to be a key player as we go on.
According to Kissner, the team’s primary goal this season is to “make a deep run at tournament time.”
“Our motto is that we want to be playing in November,” he said. “We are now in Division III, which I think is helpful for us, and we’re looking for a No. 1 seed. I think we’re on the path toward doing that.”
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