LAST SEASON: 12-4-1
5-2 HHC; lost 1-0 to Greenfield-Central in sectional semifinal
Head coach: Casey Dodd (7th season)
There was no better pure scorer in Hancock County the last two soccer seasons than Kristina Voltz.
As a junior, Voltz led the county with 25 goals, and she paced the local field again last fall with 22 goals.
Now that she’s graduated, along with fellow forward Suzy DeWael (11 goals, eight assists), MV coach Casey Dodd has to find a silver lining. And the seventh-year coach believes he has.
“The nice thing is, players like that leave a legacy,” Dodd said of a senior class that also included varsity stalwarts Courtney Hanneman, Holly Owens and Halie Whitaker. “Girls have learned from them. They’ve almost been mentored to succeed.”
With that leadership, the Marauders posted their second straight 12-win campaign last year.
Dodd is optimistic of another wining season, although it will much look different this time around.
“We have to kind of change the way we play,” he said. “When you have to great athletes like we did with Kristina and Suzy, it made my job real easy. You just sent the ball up and you knew good things were going to happen.
“Now, there’s going to be a lot more that goes into it. We’re going to be doing some different things. I’ll be doing a lot more coaching, making adjustments, and my assistants and I are looking forward to that.”
Dodd isn’t the only Marauder buoyed by new challenges. A host of players are battling to take over the scoring leadership.
Junior forward Chelsea Thomas (four goals) is the team’s leading returning scorer, while Jordan Slusher notched three goals.
Lauren Bradburn, a junior, will fill in the other forward slot. Slusher is at midfield, along with seniors Tayler Gutierrez and Krista Shockley and junior Brittany Sanders and sophomore Hannah Whitaker.
“It’s been a lot of fun over the summer, because so much of what we did in the past centered around Suzy and Kristina,” Dodd explained. “And all of a sudden, it’s been a battle. It’s created a lot of competition, and that’s been great for us.
“Now you have a Chelsea Thomas or a Lauren Bradburn getting a chance, and they’re ready to step into a bigger role.”
Most of the Marauders’ youth will be displayed on the defensive side of the field.
Except for junior Haley White, the rest of the Marauders’ defenders — freshmen Blaire Viehweg, Carrie Hanneman and Emily McNab and sophomore move-in Jordan Lilly — are brand new.
But, even that doesn’t bother Dodd.
“I’m sure we’ll have growing pains, but the exciting thing is we’ve got several young players that are key factors in our defense,” he said, “and knowing that defense is going to be together for several more years is great.”
The Marauders’ most experienced underclassman is Olivia Coleman. She started 13 games in goal as a freshman last year, but Coleman didn’t complete the season with the team. In her absence, Dodd was forced to move Slusher from midfield into the net.
Dodd is eager to have Coleman at his disposal for the entire 2012 season.
“When you have a great athlete like Olivia back there, it opens up a lot of possibilities,” Dodd said. “You can be a little risky with your defense and send your defenders to go up and attack. You don’t see that a lot at the high school level. It puts a lot of pressure on the other team.”
Mt. Vernon will open the season at home Tuesday against Southport. Voltz scored the Marauders’ lone goal against the Cardinals in a 1-1 tie last year.