By JAMIE BAKER
In his second year, Findlay High School girls soccer coach Jon Hayfield knows he and his team has some work to do this season.
He thinks his girls are up to the challenge.
While Hayfield returns a solid group of seniors, he’ll have to replace three players that graduated and are now playing college soccer at the NCAA Division II level.
Graduates Madison Mlsna and Chase Ebanks are members of the women’s soccer team at the University of Findlay, while Morgan Kirk is attending Ohio Dominican.
All three were first-team all-Three Rivers Athletic Conference selections for a Findlay High School team that posted an 8-7-3 overall record that included a 4-2-1 league mark.
Ebanks, a senior defender and two-time first-team all-TRAC selection, broke the school single-season record with 276 intercepts. She had a school record 29 intercepts in one game, and had a career-record eight non-goalie saves and record three non-goalie saves in a single game.
Kirk and Mlsna were senior forwards. Kirk finished the year with nine goals and nine assists and ended up with 57 goals and 36 assists for her career. Mlsna scored 11 goals with eight assists last season and 39 goals and 22 assists for her career.
Second team all-TRAC goalkeeper Kendra Wurm and defender Caitlin Fraley also picked up their diplomas in June.
“There’s no doubt we lost some very skilled players from last year’s senior class. They were all excellent players that we relied on a lot over the past two or three years,” Hayfield said.
“It’s a challenge, of course, but it’s one that high school coaches everywhere have to deal with on an annual basis.
“I see it as an opportunity for some of this year’s players. We’ve been able to move some people around and now it’s a chance for them to step up.”
The cupboard certainly isn’t bare for FHS as Hayfield enters the season with a career coaching record of 173-114-36. There are a pair of senior all-TRAC performers back in Ellie Zawisza and Emma Heidelbaugh.
Zawisza, a midfielder, recorded three assists with 71 intercepts and 11 steals, while Heidelbaugh, also a midfielder, had one assist with 32 intercepts and six steals.
Five other senior two-year letterwinners are also back for FHS.
Senior Madison Berry will be counted upon to fill in the gaps at defender as she returns after recording 66 intercepts with six steals.
Seniors Kaelyn Couch, Rebecca Day and Libby Fetterman are two-year returning letterwinners at forward.
Fetterman is the team’s top returning scorer as she scored five goals last season. She has a total of 13 goals and four assists during her career.
Day and Couch, meanwhile, both chipped in three goals apiece.
Senior Jocellen Puchta lettered as a defender last season and scored a goal with an assist and netted 37 intercepts and two steals. Senior Celia Johnson saw enough playing time to letter while backing up Wurm at goalkeeper.
This year’s senior class will be the backbone of a team that’s played together since elementary school.
“It’s a group of girls who have been around and played together since they were seven or eight years old. We have a camaraderie that we’re really pleased with and that’s the kind of thing we take pride in,” Hayfield said. “Our girls really work for each other. There are some issues that we need to overcome, but we have some real depth at forward and midfield and we think we have a rotation that can wear down opponents.”
Hayfield thinks his Trojans might be taken for granted by many of their opponents because of the players they lost to graduation.
“We think people will overlook us because of what we have lost. The big thing we’re focused on is making sure the girls know we have to be better today than we were yesterday,” he said.
“They have to be better students of the game, understand our opponents and do the things to give us the best chance to get a winning result.”
Two sophomores could play a key role for the Trojans this season. Colette Seager will line up at defender and Emily Meier will see action at forward and midfield.
Progress was made in Hayfield’s first season as coach and he wants to see that progress continue.
“I think we made a lot of progress last year. I have a vision and plan that I want to put in place. It’s not going to happen overnight,” he said.
“The first year was about building relationships. I think those relationships are in place. Of course, we wish we could have gotten a few more wins and we had a chance to do that. But that first year is something we can build off of moving forward.
“It doesn’t matter who we are playing, we need to be a competitive outfit. We want to be involved in every single game and be involved in the TRAC conversation every year. We know how good our league is and how tough the teams are in our district. Almost all of our closest rivals return most of their players this year. We know what we’re facing and we want our kids to embrace and step up to that challenge.”
Girls Soccer Schedule
Aug. 17 at Springfield, 1 p.m.
Aug. 21 Sylvania Southview, 7
Aug. 24 at Mansfield Madison, 6
Aug. 28 at Toledo Whitmer (TRAC), 7
Aug. 31 at Anthony Wayne, 1
Sept. 4 Toledo Notre Dame (TRAC), 7
Sept. 7 at Gahanna Lincoln, TBA
Sept. 11 Oregon Clay (TRAC), 7
Sept. 16 Perrysburg, 7
Sept. 18 at Toledo Central Catholic (TRAC), 7
Sept. 23 Sylvania Northview, 7
Sept. 25 at Toledo St. Ursula (TRAC), 6:15
Sept. 30 Ottawa-Glandorf, 7
Oct. 2 Lima Senior (TRAC), 7
Oct. 5 Ashland, 11:30
Oct. 9 at Fremont Ross (TRAC), 5