After a hard-luck 2011 campaign with an inexperienced Lady Loggers soccer team, head coach Joseph Cik returns for his second year with a starting 11 that is a little older, wiser, and, hopefully, can shrug off last year’s 0-9-2 record.
With 23 athletes and 10 returners, Cik claims the defense is much tighter than last year and will show immediate improvement.
“Last year was tough for wins and losses,” Cik said. “But the girls learned a lot of lessons about sports and themselves.”
Senior strikers Elly Webster and Sarah Nash will provide most of the punch up front for the Lady Loggers, while returning midfielder Callan Peel is expected to mature into a bit of a star.
Just because the team will have more cohesion doesn’t necessarily mean the ship will be righted in one season.
“I can’t make any promises,” Cik said. “It’s going to be different. I have extremely high hopes.”
Cik, and other soccer coaches in rural areas, work with an institutional disadvantage when facing schools from relatively larger areas and more established youth soccer leagues. Libby’s opponents around the Kalispell area have larger youth soccer programs and more athletes, leading to talented teams.
Noting this difficulty, Cik stated that, as always, Whitefish and Columbia Falls are going to be tops in the conference, but Polson and Bigfork will present challenges for even the best teams.
In short, don’t count on Libby taking the conference by storm, but expect returners such as keeper Rebecca Kyriss, defender Hailey Bowe and midfielder Breanna Opland to keep the team competitive.
The Lady Loggers open their season against Stevensville at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28.