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Big shoes to fill for Badger soccer



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Senior Taylar Keenan will be an offensive leader this year for Badger. Mike Ramczyk.

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Stephanie Espinosa (far left) could fill the scoring void left by Emma Kopp. (click for larger version)
April 09, 2013 | 04:24 PM
It's hard enough to replace one star player.

But when you lose the conference player of the year and the league's leading scorer, it's time to go back to the drawing board.

This spring, the Badger girls soccer team will have to replace Southern Lakes player of the year Angelina Delgado and leading scorer Emma Kopp. Together, they helped lead the Badgers to a 15-6-2 record and a regional championship last season.

But fourth-year coach Ross Fowler has confidence in his team.

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"It has been a tough start, dealing with the weather, but we are trying to be creative with our training," Fowler said. "In our first game, you could tell we had not been outside very much, but there is potential for this team to surprise some people."

In that first game, a 1-0 loss April 5 at Kenosha Bradford, the Red Devils' lone score came in the 43rd minute. Badger couldn't get it going offensively.

"On offense we will need some people to step up and score," Fowler said.

Kopp, Delgado, Quin Wessels, Brooke Olsen and Kelsey Nocek are all key losses, but returning letter-winners Stephanie Espinosa, Alex Swarthout, Traci Mulligan, Autumn Mikrut, Lily Fisher, Taylar Keenan and Michaela Mancini should all pick up the slack.

Fowler said newcomers Hayley Aranda, Sarah Hamilton and Cricket Geldermann should all contribute as well.

"Aranda and Hamilton are two young, talented players," Fowler said. "Keenan and Espinosa will be key for us on offense as well."

Mikrut will patrol the net as the team's goalie, and Mulligan and Swarthout will be defensive leaders, Fowler said.

"Chemistry and teamwork will be our strengths this year," Fowler said. "But we will need people to step up and fill roles to be team leaders."

Fowler said Delavan-Darien, Elkhorn and Burlington should be his team's toughest competition this season, but don't count out the Lady Badgers.

"We know that we will be battling for the title," he said.

"Our team goal is to win conference, and we want to be playing well going into the playoffs."

Badger travels to Racine Case Thursday.

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