TMP girls' soccer low on numbers
By KLINT SPILLER
Thomas More Prep-Marian girls' soccer coach Darryl Wellbrock admitted he was disappointed when he came to the first practice and saw just 13 girls come out for the team.
"That was kind of hard to swallow at first," said Wellbrock, who is in his fourth year, "but the 13 girls who are out right now are very dedicated and working very hard. They know they are going to have to play a whole game almost, every one of them, with only two subs."
The low numbers could create problems this season. Girls will have to play for long stretches, and it leaves little lineup flexibility.
However, he is optimistic about their chances, especially since he thinks they've improved from last season. In 2012, the Monarchs finished 1-13.
"(TMP's returners) have taken up from where they left off or maybe even improved," Wellbrock said. "Some of them have done some winter stuff, fall stuff. I think we have improved. We definitely haven't gone backwards, and I think we are in for a little better soccer than we finished up last year."
TMP will start its season Thursday with a crosstown match at Hays High School. TMP was scheduled to play Wichita North on Friday, but that game has been rescheduled for a date to be decided later.
The Hays High Indians are coming off a 16-5 season in which they made it to the state semifinals in Class 5A, and they return much of their roster from that season.
"We'll see what we can do," Wellbrock said. "Chris (Michaelis) is bringing back a strong team."
The Monarchs feature two seniors: Andie Marsell and Alivia Inlow -- both of whom likely will start as center backs this season.
Sarah Gustin likely will start at goalkeeper Thursday.
Marsell was the starting goalkeeper last season and could play some games at goalkeeper this year, but due to her ball skills, Wellbrock said she could benefit the team more roaming the field.
"She has shown some good foot skills and different things on the field," Wellbrock said. "She is probably going to be more of a utility player on the field. She will probably move around quite a bit."
The Monarchs will be without its top goal scorer from last season. Kelsy King, who scored five of TMP's nine goals last season, graduated.
Wellbrock said he expects multiple girls, such as Grace Volker, Annaka Applequist, Adrianna Staab, Kelsie DeWitt and Tyra Younie, to step up and fill that role.
"All these girls are very capable of scoring," he said.
For a Class 3A school with low numbers, TMP's schedule is brutal.
The Monarchs will play five games against Class 5A schools or larger, and since Elyria Christian does not have a soccer team this year two games against smaller schools have been removed from the schedule.
Wellbrock said to replace those games, TMP will schedule another game against Wichita Independent, a team it already was scheduled to face twice.
Independent also was the team TMP nearly defeated in the first round of the regional tournament. The Monarchs took Independent to overtime before falling.
"I think we are going to surprise them this season with the (TMP) girls and how they've improved," Wellbrock said.