In his second year back leading the girls soccer program, Pacific’s Todd Dempsey will be leaning on a small group of veterans to lead his team.

After graduating seven seniors from last season’s 9-10 campaign, the Lady Indians have just four seniors on the roster this season.

“We’re going to be extremely young in terms of experience,” Dempsey said. “We’ll be missing a few of our returning starters as the season begins due to offseason injuries. However, we’re hoping to have everyone back toward the middle-to-late part of the season. That said, we do have a pretty deep pool of talented younger players to plug in to those spots. They’ll get the chance to showcase their skills and get some valuable varsity experience.”

Carmia Fiedler is Pacific’s top returning offensive senior, having scored eight goals and racking up six assists last season. Fiedler will be out for a few weeks in the beginning of the season due to an injury.

Pacific’s other key returning seniors are midfielder Brooke Allen and defender Julianne Baltimore. Allen led Pacific in assists last season with 11 while scoring three goals. Baltimore had two assists.

Maddie King made an impact for Pacific as a freshman, and will look to continue to improve as a sophomore. King scored eight goals and had six assists last season. 

Junior Megan Meyers will be the starting keeper for the Lady Indians. Meyers earned a 4-5 record last season with 99 saves and a 1.62 goals allowed average.

Junior midfielder Emma Plante, junior defender Katie Adkins, junior defender Lily Hardcastle, and sophomore midfielders Johanna Schultz, Rachel Guelbert and Corynn Boyer also made significant impacts for the Lady Indians last season.

Plante had four goals and three assists as a sophomore.

Adkins scored one goal.

Hardcastle had two goals and four assists.

Schultz put in three goals and dished out six assists. She will miss time to start the season while rehabbing from an ACL surgery.

Guelbert scored three goals last season.

Boyer had one goal and two assists.

Dempsey said that five freshmen — Paige Allen, Mackenzie Arnold, Carly Clark, Jaisie Kulick and Abby Layton — also could contribute this year. He believes that his team will be balanced offensively and will get scoring across the lineup.

“While we don’t have that one player who is a huge scoring threat, the players we’re bringing back are just consistent finishers across the board,” he said. “I like that our scoring is spread out between a number of players. As a team, we’re less likely to pin our hopes on one person’s performance because we know we have capable goal scorers all over the field. I think the group of freshmen we have on the varsity side will give us an added boost on the offensive side as well.”

The Lady Indians have been moved into a district featuring two local teams — Washington and Union — along with Rolla. Winning the district is always the goal for Dempsey, and this year could have higher stakes.

“I think there’s some added motivation there with the new district setup,” he said. “We got to experience a pretty spirited and competitive district with the boys in the fall, and there’s no reason to believe the atmosphere won’t be any different this spring. I love that we have such a local flavor to the district. There’s even some familiarity with Rolla coming in. It should be a quality district no matter how the seeds shake out.”

Dempsey believes the Four Rivers Conference, led by Union, will be the strongest it has been in years.

“It’s been Union’s show for the past decade plus,” he said. “So until someone steps up to prove otherwise, it’s theirs to lose. Overall, I think the depth of quality players in our conference is as good as it has been in a long time. Union always seems to have solid players coming out of the woodwork. St. Clair has the Merseal sisters and they are going to be a tough match up for any team.”

Pacific was competitive in nearly every game last season, losing only two games by more than two goals. But the Lady Indians were 2-4 in one-goal games.

“I think we took a big step in showing we can be competitive with anyone on our schedule,” Dempsey said. “Our worst loss came at the hands of Summit, who went on to the final four last year. So the big question will be, can we take the next step and beat some of those teams we lost close decisions to? The girls are starting to figure out that the competition is pretty stiff and they need to put in extra work if we’re going to accomplish some of our goals.”

Dempsey will be assisted by Jesse Knott.

The Lady Indians begin the season with a home game against St. Clair next Wednesday, then host Washington the next day.