Only one returning player in the Four Rivers Conference scored more goals than St. Clair’s Chloe Merseal last season.
Merseal returns for her senior season after earning second team all-state honors last year with 26 goals and 12 assists.
The Lady Bulldogs posted a 14-8-1 record last spring and finished second in the conference behind Union and the only returning player to have outscored Merseal, sophomore Emily Gaebe.
While the Lady Bulldogs graduated six seniors from that team, St. Clair still returns multiple key players, starting with Merseal, senior Haley Buscher and sophomore Makayla Johnson in the midfield.
“Chloe is our captain and leader,” Head Coach Tim Isgrig said. “She is a key part to our team and leads us by example. Haley has been a four-year starter and helps us in a lot of ways. She is always in the right spot and gives us 80 minutes a night. Makayla started last year as a freshman and should really help us in the middle of the field this season.”
Junior Gracie Sohn leads a defensive unit that loses three of last season’s senior defenders and its goalkeeper.
“Gracie was an all-conference player for us and really helps with our marking in the middle of the field,” Isgrig said.
Senior Courtney Williams is expected to be the new stalwart in the net for the Lady Bulldogs, replacing two-year starter Kenzie Schmidtke.
Williams recorded 79 minutes in the net as a backup last season with 10 saves in 14 chances.
The roster will be bolstered by the addition of freshman Kaitlyn Janson.
“Kaitlyn Janson is a freshman who is going to help us this season,” Isgrig said. “She will probably play forward for us and is going to play super hard for us.”
Of the returning players, Sohn and Buscher were among the team’s scoring options last spring. Sohn netted five goals with three assists and Buscher scored four with seven assists.
Johnson was fourth on the team in assists with six, adding one goal of her own.
“Midfield is our strength,” Isgrig said. “We return a lot of depth at midfield with a lot of our key players. We need to keep getting better defensively and fill a few positions back there still.”
The Lady Bulldogs had 29 players come out for the JV and varsity teams this spring. Ted Brinker will serve as assistant coach.
“We have a really good group of girls,” Isgrig said. “We lost a lot of experience from last year but we have a lot of girls looking to step in and earn some varsity playing time. Me and Coach Brinker are really going to enjoy coaching this group.”
St. Clair will open the season Friday at home against Owensville in Four Rivers Conference play at 5 p.m. The Dutchgirls also are a district opponent for St. Clair, as are fellow Four Rivers Conference teams St. James and Sullivan in Class 2 District 9.