VERMILLION — The Vermillion Tanagers girls' soccer team will bring a fast squad to the pitch when it opens the 2010 season Saturday.
Vermillion returns a host of talent from a year ago, as just three letterwinners graduated from 2009: Sophie Nelich-Arroba, Hannah Nelich-Arroba and Lacey Leichtman. The Neligh-Arroba twins will be playing at Dakota Wesleyan this fall.
The Tanagers boast good team speed, led by senior Ashley Brunick and junior Christine Epping.
"Ashley was injured halfway through last year and returns healthy," noted head coach Dave LaCombe. "Christine was a first-year player last year. She is much more knowledgeable and fast. They are both great outside threats."
Vermillion boasts several other fast players.
"We feel very blessed with speed this year," LaCombe said. "Speed is our biggest threat."
Seniors Tascha Donnelly (D) and Morgan Erickson (D) and junior Shelby Gregoire (MF) among the team's fastest players.
Junior Katie Wasley returns for a third straight season in goalie.
"She is a key asset for us," LaCombe. "She is a very talented, knowledgeable skilled goalie that's not afraid to get dirty."
Senior Tracy Howe, sophomores Kelsey Meadows and Kortni Walker, and freshmen Haley Freidel, Tori Gregoire, Allie Mockler, Alexis Reich, Teddie Settles and Cheyenne Steemken will also be counted on this season. Each has varsity experience, but many will be asked to play different roles this season.
"We're going to be doing some realigning to fill those midfields spots left open by the twins," LaCombe said. "Someone may find themselves playing a position they didn't play before. If we pull someone (forward), someone has to go play back."
The Tanagers begin their schedule Saturday against Huron, the first of a full schedule leading up to the state tournament, Oct. 7-9 at Mitchell.
"We have a lot of games with just two or three days of rest," LaCombe noted. "The top three seeds at the end of the season get a bye to state, and the rest have to play a one-game playoff with the winners advancing."
Vermillion will also field a junior varsity team for the first time. Team members include Autumn Barnett, Shantel French, Katie Kost, Cheyenne Mallory, Aloknanda Manna-Ray, Audry Miiller, Kayal Mulheron, Natasha Samudzi, Alisa Soesbe, Kayla Stammer, Twila Sweeney and Sophia Taggart.