For the first time in seven years, the Brainerd Warriors girls soccer team in 2010 didn’t play in the Section 8-2A championship.
That fact will be motivation for this year’s team, which has a new head coach, Ricky Lacerte. Last year the Warriors lost in the section quarterfinals to Buffalo, which they had beaten in the regular season.
“So many things are going on right now,” Lacerte said. “A new coach, a new formation, a brand new team, a bit of a brand new philosophy, a brand new approach to practicing.
“Generally, my philosophy is taking it one game at a time. Every game is a championship, as far as we’re concerned, and we’ll treat it accordingly.”
Seven regulars from last year return, including Emily Beltran, Emily Dumbeck, Molly Palm, Rachel Ford, Tori Saxum, Maddie Hastings and Karlie Nelson. The group helped the Warriors to a 10-4-3 overall record.
Saxum will move from midfield to keeper this season.
“Essentially, she’s the heart of the team,” Lacerte said. “She was the first captain elected at the end of last year by the previous varsity team. She’s a die-hard soccer player. She eats it, lives it, breathes it. So does her family, and it shows in her game play.
“She has all the makings of a phenomenal goalie. If she wants to go on and play in college, that’s the way to go right now.”
Beltran will move from midfield to forward.
“She’s what you would consider a forward with ballhandling skills,” Lacerte said. “She makes the space that she needs to shoot, as opposed to a speed forward, which is one who runs to the space. She has phenomenal foot skills. If not now, she’s already an up and coming star.”
Palm is another forward but her availability this season is questionable due to injury.
“Unfortunately, in the offseason, she had a kneecap broken, in a (Lakes Area Youth Soccer Association) game, which is really disappointing because she’s an intricate part of our forward attack,” Lacerte said.
Emily Dumbeck is back at a defender position.
“She’s basically our defensive captain,” Lacerte said. “She has made vast improvement since last year. She stepped up during the offseason, training a lot, working out a lot. She shaved something like 30 seconds off her mile run. She’s made a lot of commitment to the team. She’s pretty quiet but she’s a force to reckon with.”
At midfield, Rachel Ford, Maddie Hastings and Karlie Nelson return.
“Rachel played last year at fullback,” Lacerte said. “We’ve pushed her up to midfield this year. She has a phenomenal foot for crossing. She has the perfect build and stride for outside midfield. She has the endurance and accuracy that you need to play that position.
“Maddie and Karlie are kind of a team, a duo. They work very well with one another. They made vast improvement in the offseason since last year. They gained a lot more confidence on the ball. They’re starting to work on that transition from defense to offense. That’s starting to show and pay off for us.”
Among the changes Lacerte plans to implement is playing a “flat 4” defense, which eliminates the sweeper position.
“Our philosophy is built around love of the game,” he said. “Passion and love for soccer begets great players and even better teams and that is our goal as a team and a coaching staff for these players. We intend to teach them to love the game, their teammates and most importantly themselves. Win, lose or tie will be a result of our commitment to this philosophy.
“I care for every single one of my players, without exception, period.”
Seniors: Emily Dumbeck (D), Paige Garber (MF), Rachel Ford (MF), Tori Saxum (K)
Juniors: Angela Sausen (D), Emily Beltran (F), Holly Smith (D), Karlie Nelson (MF), Madeline Hastings (MF), Molly Palm (F), Sarah Fransen (D)
Sophomores: Emma Whiteman (D), Haley Campbell (D), Hannah Lundstrom (F), Jenny Hendrickson (F), Shayna Vastila (F), Maddie Adams (MF), Paige Oakley (D)