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New coach, experienced roster looking to propel Maconaquah girls' soccer forward

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

Statistically, 2016 was an improvement for the girls’ soccer team from Maconaquah.

The Braves scored more goals and conceded far fewer with more games played last season than in 2015 with the team picking up one additional win over the year prior.

Building continuity, however, has been difficult as the senior class will now be working under their fourth different head coach in four years.

New head coach Christa Bargerhuff wants to change that for Maconaquah, having represented the school once before.

“My mom told me about the position being open,” Bargerhuff said. “I was a soccer player at Maconaquah, I’ve always wanted to coach and after applying, within a couple of days, I got the job.

“I’ve been working with the girls to show them I care more about them than the game of soccer. I plan to stay here because I love soccer, I love being with the girls and want to help shape their lives.”

Bargerhuff said the opening weeks of work had gone by quickly but the new coach saw a lot to like in the squad.

“It’s being going pretty well,” Bargerhuff said of the first two weeks of practice. “The girls have a lot of potential and we’re trying to put them into a shape with it.

“It’ll be a good season. It may not be a winning season, which, if it is, that’s great, but if it isn’t, we’ll have at least improved the girls and their skills.”

Maconaquah has plenty of returning players with seven seniors back in Sydne Leary, Holly Morris, Brittany Lamb, Syenna Powell, Ani Wetzel, Allee Nethercutt and Emily Collins.

Other returning players include junior Mcale Nethercutt and sophomores Jolee Gardner, Lilly Scheffler, Alaina Christensen and Savanna Miracle.

Newcomers to the roster for 2017 include senior Aubry Bailey, junior Josie Pyke, sophomores Renae Miller and Tara Wagoner and freshmen Courtney Grant, Madelyn Lorenz, Miranda Boruff, Rachel Gunion and Dara Bargerhuff.

With an experienced team to work with, Bargerhuff said the group would look to the seniors to shoulder most of the load but said there were several underclassmen more than capable of leading when it mattered.

“We have a couple of seniors with some good skills that need to be shaped a bit,” Bargerhuff pointed out. “Our seniors should have a very good year and they know that everyone is looking up to them.

“We also have some younger girls that keep everyone working when we’re doing drills, so there are a couple of different options as who we could use as captains.”

Bargerhuff added some of the early practices focused on the decision-making skills of the team.

“We’re working on their aggression,” Bargerhuff noted. “A lot of the girls are scared to get hurt in challenges.

“We’ve been working on passing and what type of shot to take at goal, moving the ball towards the corners rather down the middle and straight at the keeper.”

Because of the constant turnover in coaches, Bargerhuff said another item the team was working on was being able to stay mentally strong during games, going so far as to spend some time away from the pitch to build bonds among teammates.

“We’ve had a couple of team-building days where we’ve gotten to know each other,” Bargerhuff said. “We’ve played games together as a team in order to bond.

“A lot of the girls get frustrated if they can’t hit a shot or have a bad pass, so we’re working on trying to keep a positive attitude. There are times they won’t be able to do things but we’re working on making the girls better in every way that we can.”

Maconaquah has picked up three wins in the past three seasons, a trend Bargerhuff hopes the team can improve upon but understood that keeping the team mentally in the right frame of mind throughout the season was important.

“That is something that we’ll definitely be working on,” Bargerhuff said. “We need to focus on the game that’s up ahead and once that game is over, we focus on the next one.

“We’ll learn from the previous game, work on the things that we see in the previous game that needs to be worked on and enjoy the next game.”

Maconaquah hits the road to face Rochester to start the year as the Braves look to start the season and TRC play off on the right foot in 2017 with Bargerhuff convinced that, regardless of the season’s outcome, the team will be that much better in the end.

“We’re going to have a good defensive team,” Bargerhuff said. “We have a lot of defenders, which is something we need since the record lately has not been great.  “As a team, I hope to see us improve. I’m not sure where we’ll end up but improved is definitely where we are looking to go.”