Second-year Shelbyville girls soccer coach Chelsea Dourson knows she has a talented senior class. And that brings the inevitability that those players will be gone soon.
Until then, Dourson will relish in the work they do this season to produce a winning record.
“I’m very confident in our field players,” said Dourson. “I expect us to be a team that is reckoned with this season with the talent we have on the field. The test will be what we can do defensively.”
The 2016 roster features strong strikers, a returning midfielder that will help solidify the play on the field and a pair of veteran defenders. Those are the Golden Bears’ known quantities.
The unknown? Who will replace the graduated Desiree Kuhn as goalkeeper?
Dourson has identified sophomore RaeAnn Scarlett and freshman Ali Routien as the frontrunners but won’t rule out putting a veteran player on her roster in net. Routien has more soccer experience than Scarlett but Dourson likes the sophomore’s aggressiveness on the field.
In front of the goalkeeper will be defensive stalwarts Erin Diemer and Grace Bate — both seniors.
“Erin really, really impressed me last season with her willingness to give it a try,” said Dourson of switching Diemer from an offensive to a defensive position. She scored 16 goals as a freshman and had four her sophomore year before suffering a season-ending injury. “We needed her speed back there to make some serious stops. She will be a really good presence back there again.”
The same is true of Bate.
“She has a great vocal presence back there,” said Dourson.
Midfielder Laurel Eggleston lost her freshman season to an ACL injury. Now healthy, Dourson is excited to have her in the middle of the field.
“The ball will be distributed better with her presence in the middle,” said Dourson.
Eggleston will help transition the ball to senior striker Alexis Tackett and sophomore attacking midfielders Anna Lux and Hannah Murray. Tackett led the Golden Bears with 18 goals last season. Lux, Murray and senior Danielle Eberhart combined for another 15 goals.
Addy Miller and Macy Nolley round out the six-girl senior class on the 2016 roster.
Shelbyville opens the season on Aug. 16 at Beech Grove. The home opener is Aug. 18 against Franklin.
Matt Roberts takes over the Tigers program to become its third coach in as many seasons.
Roberts played at Franklin College and has been an assistant coach at Warren Central just like the previous coach — his sister, Courtney Smith.
“I’m evaluating all the players to see where they can best help the team right now,” said Roberts. “I like to figure out things for myself… see what works best for me.”
In their first two seasons, Rachel Dewey and Corissa Horton have scored a combined 83 goals. That gives Roberts comfort that his offense will be productive.
And with junior Taylor Berry at goalkeeper, the back end of the defense is secure.
In between is a mix of veterans and rookies that complete the 14-player roster.
Freshman Sarah Hahn will work with Dewey in the midfield.
Seniors Isabella Ratliff, Becky Longo and Tess Mullen provide experience both in the midfield and on the defensive front.
The Tigers open the season at home on Aug. 15 against Knightstown before playing three straight matches on the road.
Triton Central hosts Shelbyville on Sept. 8.
Jeff Brown is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Jeff on Twitter at @iamtsnsports.