The Woodbury girls' soccer team did not have time to ease into this fall's varsity schedule.
The Royals made the trip to Duluth to play in the Great Northern Shootout last weekend, coming away with losses to two talented teams.
Woodbury started the tournament with a 3-0 loss to Duluth East on Friday, Aug. 25, a team that a day later defeated a 2016 2A state title contender in Rosemount. Then the Royals were defeated 4-1 by Andover on Saturday, a team that qualified for last year's state tournament. Leah Hallett tallied the only goal in the loss.
After finishing 2-0 in Duluth to start the 2016 season, the trip left a different taste in the mouths of the Royals.
"Last year we won the tournament," head coach Pat Malicki said. "This year we lost both games, so you can only go up from here."
The Royals have started the season with a lack of veteran returners. Last year's graduates included Rachel Hewitt, who is playing soccer at South Dakota State University, and Grace Trosinski, who is now on the women's soccer roster at Hamline.
"Overall, we're pretty inexperienced," Malicki said. "The whole back line was all new. There is basically one starter at midfield."
While the Royals have a young team with players trying out new positions, Malicki is still optimistic for the season. He acknowledges how tough it is to compete in the Suburban East Conference, but he added that he has "high hopes for this team."
Last year, Woodbury finished in the middle of the SEC with a record of 4-3-1.
"To win the conference, you've got to win every game," Malicki said. "I don't think there was a lot of turnover on a lot of the teams last year."
Woodbury will get back on the field for its home opener at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 31, against Eastview.