Kickers ready to gauge early-season progress

Bryan Veginski
Setting up for senior season: Washington’s Valerie Wetterauer, No. 9, is one of four seniors on the Lady Panthers’ girls soccer team. Washington’s home opener is tomorrow.

The Washington girls soccer team will get a quick gauge of the progress it has made adapting to new head coach William Hudson.

The Lady Panthers were scheduled to meet Geneseo last night in their season opener.

The Maple Leafs knocked off Morton, owner of seven straight Mid-Illini Conference titles, last year in the sectional semifinals.

“A really tough opponent will give us a good idea of where we’re at,” said Hudson.

Last season, Washington was 2-12-3 overall and 2-7-3 in the league, which landed it in fifth place.

The Lady Panthers are targeting an increase in the victory column.

Washington was a little behind after not getting as many outdoor practices as it would prefer.

But two games this week, with the second at home tomorrow vs. Princeton, should get the Lady Panthers closer to where they want to be.

Hudson said he planned to experiment with a lot of different combinations in the early going.

Washington’s senior group — Stephanie Johnson, Brittany Lawrence, Shanley McGlaughlin and Valerie Wetterauer — is one Hudson said contains solid contributors.

The five-member freshman class brings athleticism to the table.

The two goalkeepers will have a heavy workload, particularly in the first part of the season, until some other options emerge from some candidates with interest.

In conference matches, junior Jessica Auer will mind the varsity net and freshman Olivia Schoch will serve as the frosh/soph keeper.

McGlaughlin and junior Moriah Peterson figure to anchor the Lady Panther defense.

Both were second-team all-league picks in 2007.

In the center of the midfield, Washington can count on Kathleen O’Brien and Rachel St. Clair, both juniors.

O’Brien was the girls’ lone second-team all-conference selection in ’08.

“Our juniors have a lot of talent and skill,” said Hudson, who added the team has possesses many interchangeable players.

The entire varsity roster also consists of: juniors — Amanda Henderson, Jessica Navas, Jessica Milano, Raechel Overly, Alyssa Robison, Kirsten Tervo, Kyla Kirby, Mo Minehan, Chelsea Chockley and Celeste Chockley.

Sophomores —  Jessica Dickens, Hannah Norris and Olivia Navas; and freshmen — Zoe Volk, Karlie Diveley, Adriana Mata and Jesse Markas.

“I have a great deal of confidence in the players we have,” Hudson said.

Morton enters as the M-I favorite with Dunlap, Metamora and Pekin looking like they will play contending roles.

The Lady Panthers appear to match up quite well with Limestone and East Peoria and could knock off one of the top four as their development grows.

Four kickers departed after concluding their Washington careers, including former second-team all-conference player Carrie Bunting.