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Hays High soccer coming off historic season

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

The Hays High School girls' soccer team had a historic season last year.

The Indians made the state semifinals for the first time since the program was created in 1998. They scored the most single-season goals in school history, and they broke the school record for longest winning streak with 12. They also won the Western Athletic Conference title.

In a way, those accomplishments can be a bad thing. The squad returns all but two of its players from that 16-5 squad, so it could create unrealistic expectations.

After all, anything less than the best season in school history could be considered a disappointing season for this year's team.

"I think it is (difficult to repeat)," said senior Megan Bird, an all-WAC first-team selection at midfield last season. "Right now we have all these high expectations because of last year. We are going to have to step it up, obviously, because teams are going to be out for us."

Nevertheless, Chris Michaelis, the returning WAC Coach of the Year, said he is excited to see what his squad can accomplish.

"The thing I hope we bring this year is that same competitive spirit and willingness to challenge each other in practice so we do get better and not just stay at that level we were last year," he said. "We've got to be really focused and challenge ourselves."

Hays High will start its season Thursday against Thomas More Prep-Marian at HHS Field. TMP finished 1-13 last season.

"It's a good first game," Michaelis said. "It is going to show what our strengths and weaknesses are. As a coaching staff, we've got to adjust."

Michaelis said he likes to play before Spring Break.

"It gives us an idea, as a coaching staff, what we need to do and it gives us Spring Break to give us time to work on those things and get better," Michaelis said.

The Indians' top returner is its record-setting striker: senior Taylor Herman.

Herman was named WAC Player of the Year in 2012 after breaking the school's single-season scoring record with 17. She also had five assists, which tied for the team high.

Michaelis said it could be a challenge for her to repeat her accomplishments since she was a relative unknown last season.

"This year, it is going be a bit different," he said. "They are going to know who she is from the start. Taylor is going to have to step up and increase her level of play, but also to score at that level, she is going to have to get her teammates involved. ... That will open up some things for her as well."

Hays High returns a load of all-WAC selections from last year.

Herman, Bird, senior outside midfielder April Johnson and junior sweeper Reagan Kaiser were first-team all-WAC selections last year, and junior Lacey Pfannenstiel and sophomore Brooke Russell were honorable mention selections.

"We are definitely expecting to be a lot more experienced now, especially since we only lost one senior last year," Bird said.

"We are expecting to get started a lot sooner and not take the time to do all the fundamental stuff."

Hays High returns all but two players. Shannon Shubert graduated, and Bree Kiser moved away.

"That creates opportunities for somebody else," Michaelis said. "We've got to find that person willing to step up."