Rather than make predictions, girls head soccer coach Howard Gerken is taking a wait-and-see approach to this upcoming season.
“We’ve lost some good players to graduation last year, but we have some good talent coming up this year to help fill those spots ... but it’s still too early to tell how good we’ll be,” said Gerken.
The team will miss all-state players Kelly Carroll and Krystle Hudson, as they look to challenge for the southern conference championship. Both Carroll and Hudson were four-year starters for Gerken’s team, and their experience was greatly valued. Gerken will also have to do without his other three-year seasoned veteran starters Kerry White and Holly Miskin. White earned second-team all conference while Miskin collected an honorable mention nod.
“We had some good experience last year, and this year we need someone to step up and accept the leadership role,” said Gerken.
Gerken will look to create a strong nucleus for their team. The Indians will rely on a host of young talent, including juniors Ali Ambrose and Ellen DuPont, as well as sophomores Kelly Jurusik, Shawna Seitz, Molly Chamberlin, Amanda Heath and Bethany Becht. Jurusik and Chamberlin earned first- and second-team all conference honors last season as freshmen.
The Indians may have an infusion of talent, but there is still one area of concern — who’s going to play goaltender?
Ashley Brown thwarted opposing strikers over the past four years as the Indians all-state goalkeeper graduated last spring, opening a giant chasm at the position.
“It will be a big obstacle replacing our goalkeeper. When you have a four-year starter in the net you come to expect a lot from the position. Right now we have Amanda Heath and Bethany Becht competing for the position,” said Gerken.
“A goalkeeper must have the ability to stop the ball and make the routine plays for us to be successful,” said Gerken.
With the goalkeeper position up in the air, Gerken has trainer Todd Fuhrmann working with the goalies to help them do just that — stop the ball and make routine plays.
“Todd used to play, and even coached, at the college level, so to have him working with us is definitely an advantage,” said Gerken.
“I’ve played the position my whole life and I’ve coached at different levels for the past six years, so hopefully I can help them improve,” said Fuhrmann.
With the poor field conditions due to weather, Gerken has had little time to evaluate his team, but should have a good idea of what his team can do after they play the big schools.
“Once we play Caesar Rodney and Cape Henlopen I should have a pretty good idea of where we stand in the division,” said Gerken.
Despite losing their goalkeeper, Gerken isn’t lowering the bar for his team.
“We want to be in the thick of the pack and make a push to challenge for the southern conference title,” said Gerken.