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Girls' soccer: Wolfpack look ahead to new season

The Park girls' soccer team might spend some extra time working on its goal scoring early this season.

The Wolfpack have started the season with two 1-0 road wins against Kasson-Mantorville and Apple Valley. Mandy Elton scored Park's lone goal at Kasson-Mantorville on Thursday, Aug. 24, and Taylor Johnson scored in the Saturday, Aug. 27, victory at Apple Valley.

"We had a lot of shots on goal in the opening game," co-head coach Stacy Paleen said. "Only one went in, so that is going to be kind of a focus for us. But we're pretty happy with how we've played."

Returning goalkeeper Alivia Kons came up big for the Wolfpack against Apple Valley, making seven saves to preserve the 1-0 win.

"It's nice to have a returning goalkeeper with experience," Paleen said. "She only had to make one save, so our defense did a really good job in the first game. In the second game, she had to make seven saves, but Apple Valley is a little bit better of a team than Kasson."

Park is headed into a season with a senior-heavy roster. Six seniors graduated last year, including Maggie Hallock, who is now a midfielder for Bemidji State.

However, with 11 seniors on the roster, the Wolfpack have embarked on a season where there should not be any shortage of leadership.

"It's maintaining that balance of, yes, we have these seniors right now, but also what's going to happen when they are gone next year?" Paleen said. "How can we take advantage of their leadership this year?"

Park finished with a 2-6 record last season in the always competitive Suburban East Conference. With a roster full of seniors, the Wolfpack are setting their sights on improving against conference teams.

"That's one of our main goals when we're playing conference games, is to make sure we're in every game," Paleen said. "Last year, we lost a couple in overtime, one to East Ridge and one to Roseville. So we're hoping those come out the other way this year."

Among the leaders for this year's team will include Johnson, who has moved from defense to the midfield position. Veterans Johnson, Tina Press and Carley Haus will be the team's captains this year. Haus is transitioning to defense this year after previously playing midfield.