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Soccer: Young Raiders ready to go

Junior defender Annika Lewis (25) returns to the Raider girls' soccer team after earning All-Big Rivers Conference First Team honors as a sophomore in 2017. RiverTown Multimedia file photo 1 / 2
Juniors Cam Masini (20) and Marly Johnston (8), pictured celebrating a goal with teammate Catherine Woodley last season, are two of three returning all-conference juniors for the Raider girls' soccer team this season. RiverTown Multimedia file photo 2 / 2

Despite losing nine seniors, including six starters, from last year's squad that finished second in the Big Rivers Conference, and having no seniors on the roster this season, Hudson girls' soccer coach Steve Sollom has plenty of reasons to be optimistic heading into the 2018 season.

"We will be young this season," he noted. "Having said that, the cupboard is certainly not bare."

The Raiders return three All-BRC selections from the team that went 17-8-1 overall, 10-3-0 in conference play a year ago—all juniors—in first team defender Annika Lewis, first team midfielder Marly Johnston and second team forward Cam Masini. Masini led the team in assists last season with 12 and Johnston was Hudson's best defensive midfielder while Lewis both attacks and defends well.

The Raiders also have a host of juniors who played quality minutes last year.

"Madison Danielson started every game last year and might be our best player right now," Sollom said. "McKenna Olsen started in goal most of last season and looks solid. Maggie Lorentson and Savannah Jensen are both really fast and can fill some of the offensive holes we have. On the defensive side, Carly Tewinkel and Ashley Anderson and Isabel Wiste all saw varsity action last year and are more than capable of taking over a starting role."

The Raiders also return a trio of sophomores who Sollom predicts will have a big impact this season.

"Liz Collinson is a speedy sophomore with a knack for scoring, and Ella Young is one of the most athletic players in the conference," he said. "Emma Blank saw the most action of those three sophomores last year and is one of those high effort kids every team loves to have."

Three freshmen also made the varsity squad this season and Sollom said al three of them have earned their spots on the team.

"Goalie Abby Carlson has been outstanding so far and will definitely see some action in net," he said. "Stella Duffee will help us wherever we decide to put her on the field, she's been a top player this preseason. And Lauren Chukel has been a pleasant surprise in the midfield with a strong left foot and good passing ability."

The Raiders have already had their first four matches of the season cancelled due to the weather and are scheduled to play their first game against BRC foe Eau Claire North at home this at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 12. The game was originally scheduled to be played in Eau Claire but was moved to Hudson to take advantage of artificial turf field at the high school stadium.

Sollom said whenever the Raiders start their season, he's confident they will be in the mix for a conference title at the end.

"So far the girls have been working hard and are just anxious to get rid of the snow so they can play some games and compete," he said. "Looking at the conference, I think we will be in the hunt for the BRC, along with Eau Claire Memorial and River Falls."

Bob Burrows

Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.

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