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Viking soccer heads into new season with new look

PASS: Huntington North’s Amaya Sunderman plays a pass to a teammate during a game last season for the Vikings.

BY JACOB RUDE - sports@h-ponline.com

Every program at every school across the state deals with the loss of graduating classes every year.

Not many programs are tasked with replacing two All-State athletes.

After experiencing one of the most successful seasons in program history, the Vikings and head coach Jeremy Steele will be forced to replace both Hannah Tillett and Karmen Koch, who earned First Team and Third Team All-State honors last season, respectively.

“It is always difficult to replace seniors at any time and especially the three that graduated this last year,” Steele said. “The amount of experience and understanding they possess is invaluable. There is no doubt that we will be a different team without all of them, but we are excited for those underclassmen to come in and contribute in their own unique way and write their own legacy for Huntington North girls soccer.”

The positives for Huntington North come in the form of what they do have is a wealth of experience this season. What the Vikings lost in quality in the graduation of Tillett, Koch and Sydney Kyle they make up for quantity returning this season.

The remaining eight starters from last year’s sectional runner-up team returned to the pitch this fall to prepare for another run at the Northeast 8 Conference crown and a potential sectional crown.

“It has been exciting,” Steele said of the build-up to the season. “While we graduated only three seniors, there are however big changes occurring. We are revamping our entire formation in an attempt to maximize our offensive opportunities this upcoming season. We are looking forward to another great season.”

The returning midfield tandem of Autumn Anderson and Darian Goelz will provide the Vikings experience in the center of the field. Likewise, senior Amaya Sunderman will anchor the back line for the Vikings.

“We do return the majority of players and we have a strong group that will continue to challenge for a conference championship and sectional success,” Steele said. “We are thrilled with our returning group and have high expectations for them this upcoming season. Players like Amaya Sunderman, Autumn Anderson, Darian Goelz and Daphnee Landrum will all be relied upon to carry us forward.”

While the experience is plentiful in the midfield and defense for the Vikings this season, the holes will come in the goal-scoring department.

Koch and Tillett combined for 76 goals last season while Kyle added four of her own, accounting for an overwhelming majority of the team’s 105 goals last season. With Tillett adding 40 assists, Koch four and Kyle nine, there were few goals not scored or created by last season’s seniors.

Anderson and Sunderman return after scoring nine and eight goals, respectively last season. Anderson set up seven goals while Goelz created four goals.

Despite the losses, though, Steele and his staff are focused on continuing to build a winning culture for a program that has lost just four times in the last two seasons.

“While there is always a higher level to achieve or works toward, I am incredibly proud of all of the players over the last six seasons that have helped to build this program into what it is today,” Steele said. “We have created a culture of winning, success and sportsmanship that will continue for a time to come. The foundation is laid and now we will continue to build. We work to get better every day.”