The way Kapaun Mount Carmel coach Alan Shepherd sees it, the 2012 City League girls soccer model will greatly resemble the 2011 model.
“The contenders (Kapaun, Bishop Carroll, Heights and Northwest) have lost some, but they’ll all still be near the top,” he said. “(But) there’s going to be some young teams.”
Of course, there have been losses to graduation, and the Crusaders weren’t exempt, with effective scorers Victoria Schimming and Katie Kempf among the losses.
“We lost a good portion of our scoring,” Shepherd said.
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But graduation has affected all schools so he figures the league should come down to those schools.
He has good reason to believe that — the Crusaders have won or tied for the City League title for eight consecutive years.
Kapaun will have a lot on its plate this year, and not just in league.
Defending Class 5A champion St. Thomas Aquinas will be paying a visit May 4-5 to Wichita to face Carroll the first day, then Kapaun on the second.
For the Crusaders, that could be a case of what might have been, Shepherd said.
“We lost in a shootout to Andover Central last year in the regional round, then Carroll beat Central and made it to state,” he said.
Aquinas beat Carroll 2-0 en route to the title, then Valley Center edged out the Golden Eagles.
Before the state tournament, Carroll had won all of its games except for the 1-1 tie with Kapaun on April 26.
With the bitter shootout loss still fresh in his team’s minds, Shepherd said it could be used as motivation for this season.
“We definitely have a chip on our shoulder,” he said. “It was a heartbreaker, and we definitely want to make it further than last year.
“Last year was kind of a shocker. We just have to get organized and move forward.”
To accomplish that goal, Shepherd returns a corps of seniors, led by Taylor Kruse, who earned all-City, All-Metro, All-Region and All-State honors a year ago. She scored 16 goals – 13 of those in City League play – and had 13 assists.
Senior forward Courtney Gahagan returns from a year’s layoff and is fresh off Kapaun’s Class 5A basketball championship season. Also out from the basketball team are senior Arisa Shaw and freshman Grace Hagan.
Shepherd said he will also be counting on junior Erika Boleski, who scored five goals a year ago, and sophomores Courtney Boswell (six goals) and McKenzie Heiman (11 goals, 4 assists).
A staple of a true contender can be found in goal, and Kapaun returns senior Laurel Lujano, a second-team all-City and All-Region pick in 2011.
“We have a pretty good mix and blend of upperclassmen,” Shepherd said.
He said the young players will have to learn quickly.
“Young players don’t know what kind of strength, what kind of strength or what kind of intensity it takes,” he said. “Some get it; others don’t.”