Whitney Berry's graduation left an obvious hole in the Goddard soccer team. Check back in a year to gauge the Lions' progress in filling it.
This isn't the season coach Scott Harder is looking toward for the rebound. Not only did Goddard lose Berry, who scored 167 goals during her career, but the Lions lost several other important contributors.
That left a team full of mostly sophomores who aren't yet ready to produce the success Berry guided. The Lions are 2-6.
"We're just trying to make sure they stay upbeat and stay positive," Harder said.
Berry, who now plays at Kansas, is the only four-time All-Metro selection in any sport, and she led the Lions to two Class 6A semifinal appearances.
Her departure, despite Goddard's struggles this season, can be spun positively. The young players benefited from the chance to play a year with Berry, and Harder is excited for the chance to find the Lions' new direction.
"It's fun to watch kids grow in their maturity," Harder said. "Grow in their competitiveness, to work as a team and build character. We're excited for this opportunity. We'll take our lumps along the way, of course."
Since so few key players returned, Harder also doesn't need to drastically change players' roles, and the sophomores will have two more seasons to blossom in their current position.
The "look to the future" mantra might not sit as well with the team's only senior and leading returning scorer Deedra Richard, but Harder is happy with her leadership.
"We try to instill in her that her job this year is really to be a coach on the field," Harder said. "She's really taken that to heart and she's also a great role model for these kids. She works hard and we're grateful to have her around."
Looking for more — After East finished 8-8 last season, coach Jim Griffis set a goal of improving by two games.
The Aces are halfway there, improving to 5-2 with a win over Dodge City on Tuesday. Their next game is home against Goddard on Tuesday.
East is relying on experience and is led by junior Erika Ekengren, an All-City forward in 2009.
"I am pleased with our improvements so far this season," Griffis said. "We are a veteran team for the most part, but I do have some brand new players at key positions on the field."