With the amount of snow still permeating the air, it’s difficult to imagine doing much of anything outdoors, but the calendar dictates the area sports activities, and as such the Collins-Maxwell-Baxter girls soccer team is scheduled to open its new season on tonight in Gilbert.
The Raiders showed promise after their 2011 year, but had a disappointing 2012 campaign. Despite being led into the season by Shelby Berg, one of the best all-around athletes the school had to offer, the Raiders only managed to scrape together a 1-14 record, with their lone victory of the season coming in Monroe against PCM.
With that being said, there is still reason for optimism within the program for the Raiders as they hope to return to, or even better, the success they had of two years ago under coach Gary Cummings when the team went 7-7.
The team must replace the valuable leadership of seniors Jenna Baldwin, Ashley Samson, Josie Harmon and Jenny Hurley who regularly trotted out onto the field as starters. Those seniors will be tough to replace given their experience playing together, but there is still plenty of reason for the Raiders to be hopeful of a return to their previous successes on the pitch. Injuries riddled the Raiders towards the end of last season. Keeping the whole team healthy will certainly improve the girls’ chances of returning to form this year.
Berg returns for her senior season at CMB, and she will be leading a more experienced group of returning contributors. She led the team in goals scored last season, totaling four of the team’s 12 from last year. She also added an assist. Berg led the team with 40 shots on goal as well. Berg will need to have perhaps even a stronger year than that to help the Raiders in the win department.
If the Raiders are going to improve their record on the pitch this season, Berg is going to need much more help putting the ball in the back of the net. That help could come from junior Katie Ziesman, who picked up the pace toward the end of last season. She will be counted on to take some of the scoring pressure off of Berg. Also, no longer being an underclassman, Ziesman will be counted upon to help lead a team with just four seniors. She was second on the team in shots on goal last year with 18.
Sophomore goalkeeper Lexi Breon will be counted upon just as equally to keep the goals out of the net. As a freshman, Breon started out shaky but gradually improved her effort over the course of the year, and she ultimately all but cemented her position as the team’s leader in net. However, she will need to improve upon her 3.5 goals against average in order to keep her team in games. Breon did have an impressive 85.3 save percentage last season, which suggests that just as much of the honus should be put on her defenders to keep their opponents’ shooting lanes to a minimum.
Seniors for this season include Berg, Becky Williams, Kate Deakins and Lauren White. They will lead a large group of returning sophomore and junior girls to try to return the team to its winning ways this spring.