For the past three seasons, only Borgia has stood in the way of St. Clair girls soccer and a district championship.
In their bid to change that this season, St. Clair returns eight starters from last season’s 14-8-1 team.
Senior starting goalkeeper Kenzie Schmidtke is among those returners after recording 11 shutouts, nine solo, with an 83.7 save percentage in 2017.
Offensively, the team returns the bulk of its scoring threats, such as forwards Leah Hill (senior, 11 goals, five assists in 2017) and Sommer Schneider (sophomore, 10 goals, eight assists).
“Sommer and Leah really improved and showed good chemistry as last year went on,” Head Coach Tim Isgrig said. “I look forward to seeing them work together.”
In the midfield, returning are juniors Chloe Merseal (10 goals, 10 assists) and Haley Buscher (seven goals, nine assists).
“Haley has started since her freshman year and brings a lot of experience and competitiveness to our team,” Isgrig said.
A pair of defensive starters return as well — seniors Amanda Baumruk (six goals, nine assists) and Chevelle Ammerman (one assist).
“These two return to the center of our defense and I look for them to be a strength of ours,” Isgrig said.
The team adds junior Erin York on defense and promising freshman Makayla Johnson, whose position has not yet been determined.
The primary spot the Lady Bulldogs will need to fill is its attacking midfielder after graduating Anna Merseal, a two time all-state player who posted 22 goals and 17 assists in her senior season.
“We have to fill that spot,” Isgrig said. “Her sister Chloe is looking to step in and bring a lot to our offense. She worked really hard this offseason and is going to play in the middle more than she did the last two years. We also have to find a way to replace Anna’s leadership since she’s been our captain the last three years.”
St. Clair also graduated two outside defenders in 2017, Gabi Lindsey and Kelsey Wachter.
Candidates to fill those positions include York, senior Adrianna Collins and sophomores Gracie Sohn and Nicole Moore.
In addition to seeking a way to beat Borgia at the district level, St. Clair also faces the daunting task of attempting to finally unseat Union at the top of the Four Rivers Conference after 13 straight conference titles.
“Very excited for this season and the opportunity to coach this group of girls,” Isgrig said. “They’ve been working hard and are ready for the season. ...We try to get better every day and want to be playing our best soccer for the district tournament. We want to compete in every game and be good teammates to each other.”
Ted Brinker will serve as the team’s assistant coach.
St. Clair begins the season in Four Rivers Conference play Friday at Owensville.