This year's Camp Verde girls soccer team doesn't look a whole lot different from last year as nine playing seniors come back to lead the squad, a senior foreign exchange student and a former player who is managing the team. That experience coupled with the incoming freshmen's work ethic and everyone in between, the Cowboys should have a fun and successful season.
Seniors that are going to lead the team on the field are Jessica Regan, Ashley Petefish, Maggie Monroe, Anna Bassous, Kristy Williams, Courtney Jenkins, Cassie Brown, Rainey Walker, Danielle Anderson and Michelle from Switzerland.
Losing Rochelle Williams and Nicole Betz to graduation left two important positions open for this year's team. Williams' position as striker/forward looks like it will stay in the family as younger sister Kristy will pick up where Rochelle left off and continue to score goals for the team.
Betz' position as sweeper is going to be a bit harder to fill. Betz did a great job of orchestrating the defense and her successor will have to step up and be a dominating force on the field to stop opponents from scoring.
"Whoever gets that position at sweeper has to be very vocal," said coach Mary Taylor. "It's a lot more technical now. Teams are now looking at a few different players to attack, not just one. This player will have to get the defense to mark on who's attacking."
Coach Taylor will use the first few games of the season to see who does the best job at sweeper.
Other returning players that have really shown intensity out of the field in practice are sophomore Jessica Reay and Stephanie Miller.
"Both players are looking tough and have an awesome desire to be stronger, faster and better," said coach Taylor.
Giving an example that the team as a whole is strong this season. The biggest change this year is that the team is getting along well, better than they have before. Another difference this year from past years is that they girls showed up in better shape then they had in the past, showing that more dedication by everyone is very apparent.
On the coaching front, coach Taylor has a new assistant this year, Megan Richardson.
Richardson and Taylor played soccer for Camp Verde in High School Richardson then went on to play two years at Glendale Community College and then another two years in Connecticut. She continued to play league soccer and brings her expertise in fitness and offense to the Cowboys' team.
Taylor is continuing to encourage her players to learn more every year. This year she is working not only on basics but technique as well
"We always have to be changing. One thing that we are working on is more comprehensive understanding of techniques. Learning where to pass and receive, not just passing," said coach Taylor.
Technique will be very important as they take on region rivals Sedona and Chino Valley this year. Both teams will be tough. Sedona has continued to dominate the league, grabbing the No. 1 spot consistently. Chino Valley and Camp Verde have battled down to the last game to determine 2nd and 3rd place in the region for the past two years. Both times Camp Verde edged the Cougars, often times going into overtime.
When coach Taylor asked her team to write down what they wanted out of the season, many answers came back. But one thing that was consistent was that they wanted to bond with each other and learn to respect each other. To be better people and athletes, which echoed the sentiments of Taylor and her goal for the team this year.
"The strength of the team will be the work ethic of the freshmen and leadership of the seniors," said coach Taylor.
The Cowboys start off their season schedule against Blue Ridge in a scrimmage on Aug. 25 on the road. Then they will take on Chino Valley on the 29th.