2012 Fall Preview: NLA girls soccer team hopes to build on last year’s successLast fall, the New Life Academy girls nearly shocked the high school soccer world by reaching its first-ever state tournament. However, South St. Paul dashed the Eagles’ hopes with a 1-0 win in the Section 4A final. This season, the Eagles are hoping to build on their past success.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
Last fall, the New Life Academy girls nearly shocked the high school soccer world by reaching its first-ever state tournament. However, South St. Paul dashed the Eagles’ hopes with a 1-0 win in the Section 4A final.
This season, the Eagles are hoping to build on their past success.
“We are a young team,” NLA head coach Lynn Atkinson said. “Experience in conference and section playoffs was great last year, however, we will be facing some older, more experienced teams in both our conference and section play this season.”
Last year NLA went 12-5-1 overall, reaching the Section 4A final by defeating St. Agnes 2-1 in the quarterfinals and topping No. 2-seeded Simley 3-2 in two overtimes in the section semifinals.
New Life needs to replace a pair of standouts this fall after losing key defenders Kaitlyn Hawn and Taylor Paulson to graduation. Both were four-year starters for NLA and “leaders on and off the field,” Atkinson said.
“Kaitlyn and Taylor will both be tough losses for our team,” he said. “Both anchoring our defense, we look to rebuild and re-structure the way we have played in the back four.”
Back for the Eagles this season, however, are All-Conference midfielders Chloe Westlund, a junior, and Carolyn Stacey, a freshman. They will “anchor the position and start off the attack this season,” said Atkinson.
Westlund will captain the team along with junior Reagan Rice.
“Chloe is our engine,” he said. “Along with her passion for the game, she orchestrates our play on the field.”
NLA returns its starting goalie from last year in Theresa Baranick. Also back is senior Sarah Stacey, who has been a member of the team since junior high school.
“(Sarah Stacey’s) understanding of the game and her ability to play any position on the field will be a great asset to the team this season,”Atkinson said.
Atkinson said his team has a number of up-and-comers that he expects to make a bigger impact in 2012, including: sophomores Stephanie Pohl and Bre Cathey and freshmen Tori Rogness, Emily Henderson and Tatiana Lee.
“We are a young team, only returning two seniors,” Atkinson said. “But, we have experience and the commitment of our players to compete at a high level of the game.”
Last week, NLA kicked off the season with a 2-2 tie with section foe Simley. Next, the team takes on West Lutheran at home on Thursday, Aug. 30.