Plenty of experience still on roster for 2023 Titans Girl’s Soccer
By Anne Homan,
Entering his tenth season as Tea Area High School head girls’ soccer coach, Mark Anderson is excited to welcome back seniors Sydney Sherwood, Kendra McKinney, Sami VanTol, Jessica Nelson, Kara Knutson, Sydney Neuhardt, Emily Morales, and Stella Peterson, along with juniors Maddie Baatz, Aftyn Murray, and Chloe Wilson.
“We have the talent to be successful, it’s putting that all together,” said Anderson. “Really it’s the old saying, take care of business each half each game and we should be able to make a run late in the season and plays into playoffs.”
The team will be without Brooke Deckert, Kaitlin Kuhnert, Josie Swanson, and Amber Aymar, all of whom graduated last spring.
But they have plenty of experience remaining on the roster and some strong up-and-comers.
“We have a strong group of players that will play Junior Varsity and also get Varsity time,” said Anderson.
Anderson noted teams to beat this season will be West Central, Dakota Valley, and Sioux Falls Christian. The Titans also have to face off against five Class AA teams this year, so they will be challenged.
The challenges started quickly as the Titans opened their season on Aug. 12 against a strong team in Dakota Valley.
“Last season we tied and lost to Dakota Valley and then lost in the playoffs to them. So opening the season with them was already an important game for the season,” said Anderson.
The Titans started a little slow with both teams trying to learn as much as possible early. The speed of the game picked up, however, and the Titans were able to create multiple scoring chances but weren’t putting the ball on the goal.
Defensively Tea Area kept Dakota Valley from creating much offense as well or shots on goal. The score stayed 0-0 at the half.
In the second half, the Titans came out and pressured Dakota Valley. Once again, Tea Area had some very good scoring chances but was unable to put the ball in the goal.
Finally, Baatz got one to go in the net.
“We held a big possession advantage for the whole game and did a good job moving the ball around and ended up with a 1-0 win,” said Anderson.
Senior Keeper, Nelson, earned the shutout against the Panthers.
On Tuesday, Aug. 12 the Titans traveled to West Central to take on another strong team. Possession was back and forth throughout the game, but not many shots on goal.
Around the 33-minute mark, Wilson was going for a ball inside the edge of the Titans’ goal area and had what looked like the better position on the ball. She took possession of the ball then the center referee stopped play and gave West Central a penalty kick.
“Apparently we committed a foul but we’re never told what the foul was,” said Anderson.
West Central was able to convert and took the 1-0 lead.
“We didn’t create many scoring chances in the first half but we did in the second half,” said Anderson.
However, West Central’s keeper Senior Cambell Fischer stopped all four quality shots, allowing West Central to take the 1-0 victory.
“Our keeper [J. Nelson] did a great job and gave up just the one penalty kick,” said Anderson.
On Saturday, Aug. 20 the Titans traveled to Garretson to take on the Blue Dragons.
The Titans dominated possession and shots on goal from the very start.
“Again we struggled to finish but kept putting on the offensive pressure,” said Anderson.
Late in the first half, the Titans’ midfielder was fouled in the goal area and Tea Area was granted a Penalty kick. Wilson took the kick and put it just under the crossbar to give the Titans a 1-0 lead.
Right before the half, Tea Area scored again. This time Murray scored with the assist by Kendra Nielson.
“Up 2-0 at half we came out with a lot of energy and rotated a lot of players in and out of the game,” said Anderson. “We kept Garretson guessing and off balance and it paid off as we scored five goals in the second half.”
The Titans grabbed the 7-0 victory with Nelson earning the shutout. Sophomore goalkeeper Abby Munson went into the game in the second half and helped keep Garretson off the scoreboard.
The Titans were scheduled to play Watertown on Aug. 23 and Vermillion on Aug. 25. They will be at home on Saturday, Aug. 27 when they take on Harrisburg for an 11 a.m. match.