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Girls soccer: Ten return for Tigers

Perhaps none of the other fall sports teams at Farmington is better prepared for the jump to the South Suburban Conference than the girls soccer team.

The Tigers finished in the top half of the Missota Conference four of the last five years and reached the section finals for the second straight year last fall where they fell 2-0 to Lakeville North. Ten letter-winners are back from that squad, which defeated current South Suburban teams Lakeville South and Shakopee, and was competitive with North and Prior Lake while posting an overall record of 10-5-4.

“We are a young team going into the South Suburban, but we have excellent chemistry,” Farmington coach Tracie Randall said. “We are training hard and are ready to prove we can be competitive in the bigger conference.”

The Tigers lost some scoring punch to graduation, but Randall expects her team to stay in games with its defense and goalkeeping. Honorable mention all-conference keeper Ashley Becker returns to the position after posting 10 shutouts last season.

“We expect great things from her. She will be unbelievable – one of the best goalies in the state,” Randall said.

Becker will be fronted by a defense that includes returning letter-winners Morgan Reigner and Leah Kiage. Newcomers Nicole Krebs and Kat Almquist are also expected to contribute.

Midfield play should also be a strength for the Tigers. All-conference pick Destiny Schmitz returns on the right side, Kali Allard is back to direct traffic in the middle of the field and Megan Graham provides speed on the left side. Letter-winner Sarah Zak and first-year varsity players Kaitlin Jokinen, Nicole Simon, Caysie LaVinge, Natalie Lessert and Ashley Ellefson will provide midfield depth.

At the Forward spots, the Tigers have three returning letter-winners in Shannon McKnight, Nicole Doran and Jen Miller. Randall also expects newcomer Samantha Franzoi to help create some scoring opportunities.

Finding new scoring threats is high on the Tigers’ to-do list as several of their top offensive players were among the 10 lost to graduation.

“We lost many seniors last year that played key roles in our success, but I feel we can fill those spaces in with new talent that, after some time, will be able to fill those big shoes,” Randall said.

The Tigers open the season Tuesday at Rochester John Marshall.