Douglas looks to be favorite in girls soccer | NevadaAppeal.com

Douglas looks to be favorite in girls soccer

Chuck Smock

Two years ago, when the Douglas girls won their first Northern 4A Region soccer title, five sophomores made contributions throughout the season to help the Tigers bring home the championship.

As juniors, the five helped hold together a team that could have been decimated by the midseason suspension of four key returning seniors, but instead went on to play for the region title.

Now that they’re seniors, Jessica Brady, Britney Christen, Tracey Hawks, Molly Hernandez and Rebecca Wallstrum will be asked to do more.

The seniors, along with classmate Terran Hadlock, who made the DHS varsity team as a freshman in 1999 but played high-level club soccer in Florida and Southern California each of the past two years, will step into leadership roles vacated by nine graduated seniors who had a combined 23 seasons of varsity soccer experience.

And they’ll do so with a group of teammates that includes only two players who made the varsity roster at the start of last season.

“Obviously, we had a core group of kids who were experienced and are going to be hard to replace,” said Fred Schmidt, who is entering his ninth season as the Tigers’ head coach. “We’re really young and untested, but this group of six seniors is going to give us a pretty good start.”

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Hawks is a two-time Sierra League Midfielder of the Year and was an all-Region first-team selection last season.

Brady earned first-team all-Region honors as a defender last season. She and Wallstrum anchored a back line that allowed only nine goals in 18 games, which tied a Douglas High record.

Hernandez and Christen are both talented midfielders who will play big roles in Schmidt’s innovative 3-5-2 formation, which is designed to use a large pool of skilled players to control the middle of the field.

Hadlock showed flashes of becoming a dominant Northern 4A player as a freshman, including scoring the lone goal in her team’s 1-0 win over Sparks in the first round of the 1999 playoffs.

She moved to Bradenton, Fla., to attend the Nick Bollettieri Soccer Academy during her sophomore year. Last year, she drove with one of her parents to Southern California each weekend during the fall soccer season to play for the Southern Cal Blues in Mission Viejo.

“We’ve been among the top couple of teams (in the North) each of the last eight years,” Schmidt said. “I expect this group to aspire to this level and they have already let me know they want to.

“The work ethic in the practice sessions so far has been outstanding.”

Also returning this season are juniors Hannah Sullivan and Mackenzie Porter.

Sullivan, a speedy forward with killer instincts around the net, made a splashy varsity debut and ended her sophomore season by being named to the all-Sierra League first team.

Porter, whose sister Lindsee completed a three-year varsity career last fall, made a smooth transition to the varsity level last year as a sophomore.

Junior goalkeeper Andrea Bryant and sophomore forward Christina Bradshaw both were called up from the junior varsity squad midway through last season.

Bryant will be looking to continue a long line of goal-tending dominance at DHS, while Bradshaw will join Sullivan and sophomore Krysten Bartsche in the rotation at forward. Junior Kim LeFever should also see some time on the front line this season

Either Brady or Wallstrum will play the middle defender position depending on the strengths of the opponent’s forwards. Junior Michelle Ward and sophomores Alison Pyne and Jessica Maule are battling for playing time at one of the two outside defender positions.

Hadlock, Hawks, Hernandez and Porter likely will see the bulk of the playing time at the three center midfield positions.