In 2019, the Highland girls soccer team will look to use their depth and youth to have success on the field.
Overall, 27 players are in the program this spring and 21 of them have played with the Lady Bulldogs or have played club soccer elsewhere.
Five seniors and a junior return.
Center/mid Jaqyln Ferguson and defenders Rachel Miller, Jada Duncan, Kealey Korte, and Jordyn Schrage — all seniors — and junior center/mid Ashlyn Deluca will form the core of the Lady Bulldogs lineup.
“Our five seniors have a lot of experience and the majority of them have been starting for three years along with our one junior, Ashlyn,” Highland coach Josh Oswald said. “So, we’re going to have a decent mix of experience with definitely a lot of youth and some learning curves along the way.”
On offense, the Lady Bulldogs will look to Audrey Wilke, Ferguson, Deluca to provide punch. Ferguson scored four goals and had nine points last season while Wilke also had four goals and nine points, and Deluca had three goals, three assists, and nine points.
Defensively, Highland will count on Miller, Duncan, Korte, and Schrage to keep balls out of their zone.
“The core of the strength of our returners is on the defensive end, so we feel really good about our defense and we should be solid along the back (line),” Oswald said.
Others that figure to see significant time on the pitch are junior Sam Hengehold at forward and freshman striker Katie Augustin.
Henghold played as a freshman two years ago and is back after running track last season. Augustin will help bring more scoring to the offense with her energetic style up top.
“She’s going to see a lot of minutes for us up top as a striker for us,” Oswald said. “She has a high soccer IQ, uses her feet, checks back to the ball very well and can do a little damage in the air off set pieces.”
In goal, sophomores Kagney Riggs and Bella LaPorta are expected to split time.
LaPorta, who ran track last year, is trying soccer for the first time, and the potential exists for her to stand out between the pipes.
“I think she definitely has a lot of the attributes that we’re looking for in a goalie,” Oswald said. “She’s tall, has good hands and is agile and athletic — now it’s just a matter of getting her comfortable in the goal and letting her learn and pick up on things that come natural.”
Highland opens the season March 12 against Gibault Catholic at Freeburg in the first round of the Metro Cup Tournament.