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ORLEANSâ€“The days of the being a ground and pound crew for the Lake Region girls soccer team are all but over.
Coach Brad Urie has taken the rough and tumble teams of the last few seasons, and infused a blend of speed and finesse that he hopes will produce the same kinds of results that his previous squads have.
"I think we are more skilled and have more speed than normal, but we probably aren't as physically strong and we definitely don't have the experience that we have had in the past," said head coach Brad Urie. "We brought up a couple of sophomores Tori Adams and Haley Kennedy, both of which will be starting this year, and two another two players Mikayla Royer Drew Neal. Drew will probably be starting and Mikayla will see significant time off the bench."
The team also picked up transfer student Nicole Roy from UCA, one of two players who made the jump from the Crusaders to the Rangers.
On offense Lake Region will be building around arguably one of the most prolific goal scorers in the school's history, Tyrah Urie.
Urie is coming off of a season where she scored twenty-one goals as a freshman, breaking the school record in the process.
"Everything just came to me," she said about her success last year, but this year she is working even harder to go above and beyond last season's performance.
"I played in the summer league, running, working out and running," was her reply to the prep work that has gone into this year's campaign.
However, coach Urie wants to see more scoring from the rest of the team.
"The ideal team thing for us would be for her to go from seventy percent of the scoring to thirty or forty percent, and still have her score twenty-something goals," Urie said with a chuckle. "I think we are a higher powered offense than before, but I am not sure."
The team is a fast one, no doubt, but with some younger players playing significant roles, Urie still has to wait to see what will pan out.
A combination of Tyrah, Drew and/or Amber Bernier will be filling the striker position, but the concern lies in the ability to get the ball to these players while still getting secondary scoring from the wings and mids.
On defense is where the biggest shift will take place. With Callie Cashin, who anchored the team's D last year gone, it will be up to some returning veterans to become the go-to players in the backfield.
Said the coach, "Sarah Burnham is going to take over the leadership role as a senior and will be the sweeper. Ashley Locke is moving into the stopper-back position, so I am going to have some experience in the middle of the defense."
"We are very skilled, but we need to remember where we are playing at, what position we are at, as well as work as a team and help each other out," said Burnham. "We are going to be good so be ready."
Sabrina Roberge, Corrina Cota and Adams will also be asked to play a major role in shutting down opposing offenses.
In goal, sophomore Jordan Cowels will be getting the nod to start with Lake Region's second UCA transplant Sidney Whipple at the ready.
"Jordan will be starting and we have Sidney as well. Sidney is a very hard worker and she is actually pushing our other goalie to work harder," said Urie. "I think it is a work in progress for both of them, but I am very comfortable with either one in goal."
All in all, Urie is expecting good things from his crew, and he hopes the good times get started next Wednesday when the Lady Rangers get their season underway in Lyndon against the Vikings at 4:30.
They will have their first home game on the 8th at 11:00 AM when they welcome Richford to Ranger Country.