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2016 preview: New Life Academy girls soccer boasts new look in new season

After one of the best seasons in program history, the Eagles girls soccer team looks very, very different heading into this season. New Life Academy graduated some talented seniors, including Tori Rogness, Carolyn Stacey, and Tatiana Lee, among others. It also lost coach Blake Bracket.

When new coach Sam Mann was hired in the offseason he had a clean slate to work with -- and he’s hit the ground running so far.

Mann orchestrated voluntary workouts over the summer, and started two-a-days last week with a scrimmage to gauge the technical skills of his players.

“Then we hit the ground running on Day 2,” Mann said. “I wanted two-a-days to make sure we’re ready. I believe the more we play, the better we’re going to be.”

Mann, who also plays for the Minnesota United reserves, has been stressing the importance of technical skills. Those basic fundamentals, he said, can carry teams toward success, especially at this level.

“That’s going to be a strength for us,” he said. “We will also be good at adapting in matches. We are focusing a lot on those things.”

Eagles senior captains Kayla Binsfeld, Maya Binsfeld, and Nicole Hager have been helpful, Mann said, in articulating his philosophy on the pitch.

“The underclassmen look up to those upperclassmen,” Mann said. “They really listen when the older group says something.”

Mann said he wants his team to use its speed to its advantage this season.

“I love to attack as much as possible,” he said. “We also have to have a strong backline to be able to support that attack.”

New Life Academy opens the season against Visitation on Friday.

“I’m really excited to get started,” Mann said. “We have been working out over the summer and I think the players have grasped the way I want them to play. Now we will see how it plays out in a match.”

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