ENID, Okla. —
The Enid High School soccer program will start its season with the most players in its history for the second straight year, welcoming in 115 players for a 2014 campaign that opens 6 p.m today at Sand Springs.
The boys return after finishing 8-6 overall and 4-3 in district play to earn a playoff berth in 2013. A surprising win against then top-ranked Jenks didn’t translate to an opening-round postseason win against Owasso.
The Pacers have one of the most experienced groups in team history, returning most of a 2013 team that started 3-3, but missed the playoffs after finishing 5-8 overall and 2-6 in district play.
Here’s what to watch for from Enid’s soccer teams in 2014.
Girls’ back line been there before
All five of the Pacers’ projected starters on the defensive end are seniors. Four-year starters Sarah Blakley and Audrey Merz will pair at center back for Enid, Merz making a move inside after starting as an outside back in 2013. She replaces longtime defensive standout Katie Bell as Blakley’s center back partner, but the chemistry between the two has been strong in preseason play, coach Craig Liddell said.
“The move actually suits (Merz’s) style of play.” he said. “They’ll work together tremendously … They’ve played together since they were 6 or 7. They’ve got a good connection.”
Fellow seniors Jessica Ramirez (left back) and Shelby Davenport (right) will make up the rest of the back line, and senior Grace Enmeier will start in goal.
… And speaking of seniors
Enid’s girls will open the season with seniors in nine of eleven positions, the experience giving the Pacers perhaps their best chance at reaching the postseason since the sport moved to eight-team districts.
Pacer senior and record-setting scorer Sophie Holle will start at forward after leading Enid with seven goals as a junior. Holle has been held back by a variety of injuries after scoring a Pacer record 11 goals as a freshman, but enters 2014 with a clean bill of health, scoring five goals in the Pacers’ preseason scrimmages.
“She looks good,” Liddell said. “She’s strong. As a freshman, she was really dangerous, being almost fearless. Now she’s a smarter player. I’m really excited for her.”
Shelley Mueller returns after a three-goal, two-assist junior season as a central midfielder, and will fill the same role as a senior. She is a rare three-sport athlete, having started in both softball and basketball.