Revamped lineup has Marauders coach, players feeling optimistic

“It still hurts,” said second-year Mt. Vernon girls soccer coach Steve Williams when asked about his team’s third consecutive close loss to New Palestine in sectional play.

Mt. Vernon has experienced an overtime loss, a loss in penalty kicks and a regulation loss to New Palestine in the past three seasons, but Williams said he believes this year could be a special one for his Marauders.

“They were all competitive games that could have gone either way. We are right there,” Williams said when discussing his team’s recent string of three consecutive tough losses against New Palestine.

“I’m as optimistic about this team as I am about any team I’ve coached in my life,” no small boast, for a coach who previously led the Mt. Vernon boys team to five sectional and four regional titles.

Mt. Vernon graduated two impact players in forward Claudia Brown, who is playing at Kenyon College, and goalkeeper Olivia Coleman, who will run track at IPFW, but they may have replacements ready to step in.

Freshmen Lexie Hardy and Cleo Mills, coming off a third-place finish at nationals in the U14 division as members of FC Pride, are expected to contribute in the starting lineup from the start for the varsity squad.

Sophomores Morgan Scruggs and Nicole Ratts are returning from injuries that kept them out of the last three-quarters of the season last year.

“Getting Morgan and Nikki back, along with Hardy and Mills coming onto the team, its really like we’ve got four new players,” Williams said.

The make up of Mt. Vernon’s lineup is interesting, in that their four defenders are all seniors, while the midfielders and forwards are sophomores and freshmen.

Leading the defense will be senior captain Blair Viehweg. “She is the clear leader of the team, and really has been the glue that has kept this team together over the years,” said Williams.

“We are a great mix of young and old, with five seniors, three sophomores, and three freshmen that could start,” Williams said. “I am confident we will get to where we want to be this season.”

Kickoff: Mt. Vernon travel to Southport today.