The Rouse girls soccer team has adopted a new motto this season: Pound the stone.
Borrowed from the stonecutter’s credo, the saying goes that you can hit a stone 100 times without cracking it, but the 101st blow will split it in two.
The Raiders have built a lot from last season, making it to the state semifinal, further than any soccer team in Rouse history. Despite graduating six seniors, they hope to continue building off the success of last year’s run.
“I feel really good about this season,” Rouse head coach Katie Marek said. “I have a solid chunk of returners coming back. They have a close bond and they’ve been very welcoming to the new players we’ve added. They’re a hardworking team.”
Alivia Sparschu is the Raiders’ top returning offensive threat. She was second on the team last year with 10 goals and finished with 4 assists.
Junior Allie Loza would have been a regular player at forward and as a winger but was sidelined for half of last season with a knee injury. She continues to battle injuries to start this year, but Marek hopes she is good to go when the season really ramps up.
The younger players have already shown they can make an impact as sophomore Victoria Hoggard had a pair of goals and sophomore Kylie Fournier finished with one assist in the preseason scrimmage against Anderson
“We can develop players and we’ll be more creative on the attack and get the ball to the end of that field," Marek said.
The biggest departure from the attacking unit was forward Haley Hoppe, who scored 35 goals with five assists and was named district MVP. The Raiders also lost a pair of senior captains in Abby Schraeder and Charlotte Wilson.
While the attacking options will continue to evolve, the back line has a strong group of returners to bolster the defense. Junior Delaney Carrell was second-team all-district a season ago, while Abby Forster was an honorable mention list.
Celise Phillips appeared in 25 games last season, finishing with a .454 goals against average and 19 shutouts and was named the district's Goalkeeper MVP.
“We still have a solid goalkeeper so we really want to keep a lot of clean sheets this year,” Marek said. “Pretty much all of the defenders played there last year, so having a solid defense will be helpful.”
Marek said some of the players do feel pressure after the success of last season, but the team isn’t looking that far ahead right now.
“We’ve talked about defining success,” Marek said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean we have to go back to the state tournament. Of course that’s a goal on their radar, but we have little goals that we want to meet throughout the season.”