Sterlington Lady Panthers Soccer Preview
Looking to build on last season's accomplishments, the Sterlington Lady Panthers are counting on a mixture of veterans and newcomers for the upcoming soccer season.
Missing from preseason camp are 2017 seniors Devan Bowlin, Anna Beth Guerriero, Tara Locantro, Madison Mitchell, Allie Ross, Selma Sheikh-Khalil and McKenzie Yarbrough, who helped start the program five years ago as freshmen.
"This is the first group that wasn't here the first year," said Lori Bruscato, the only coach in the program's history. "We lost a good class, but we picked up some good players.
"The middle school program has been up and running, which obviously benefits us because you can see the talent coming up."
Sterlington (8-7-3) raised the bar last season, earning its highest seed (No. 16), hosting its first playoff game and scoring a school record 48 goals.
Faced with the task of replacing the large senior class, Bruscato is still experimenting.
"We lost a lot of defenders," Bruscato said. "I'm not sure what formation we are going to use. It's just a matter of trying to figure out who fits best where. This is the most talent we have ever had, which is a good problem to have."
Sophomores Ana Hodnett and Hannah Jerkins are the goalkeepers. Otherwise, who will play where remains a mystery.
"There is a lot of versatility on this team," Bruscato said. "I'm asking the girls to be patient. Some may play offense one day, defense the next. I'm trying to figure out the best situation for the team. We have a lot of competition."
Returning starters include seniors Chandler Manning and Noor Sheikh-Khalil, juniors Maddie Merrell, Abigail Raley and Lauren Wright, and sophomores Emma Grace Brister, Bel Coley and Shelby Moore.
Also in the mix for playing time are senior Raylee Butler, junior Gray Grunskey, sophomores Madelyn Bozeman, Kayla Dahlum, Kendal Merrell and Alyssa Tucker and freshmen Emarie Adams, Allison Guerriero, Maddie Lawhon, Chloe Snell and Alli Whitlock.
Making their first appearance of the season, the Lady Panthers scrimmage at St. Frederick on Thursday, Nov. 9. Sterlington opens the season with a four-game homestand, starting with a Tuesday, Nov. 14 fixture against Ouachita. Starting time is 5:45 p.m. for the girls and 7:30 for the boys.