By Beau Wicker Pharos-Tribune
---- — Logansport girls soccer coach Todd Reiff got a big win before the season even started when he found out star basketball player Whitney Jennings was coming back out for the team.
Sometimes star basketball players skip their fall sport their senior year but Jennings is playing soccer again this year.
“It’s a huge win,” Reiff said. “I know the girls appreciate that as well. As a coach you want best players and the best athletes on your team, and she epitomizes both of those. We’re incredibly blessed to have her on the team. She just adds so much to everything we do.
“I invite the local fan base to come out and watch — if you want to watch a stellar athlete — you don’t get the opportunity very often to do that around here. She is really good at what she does and she makes everybody else around her better.”
Reiff said he’s not yet sure where everybody will play yet, but that’s he’s encouraged by the level of talent the team has displayed thus far.
Goals include winning North Central Conference and sectional titles.
“We’ve got pretty lofty goals,” he said. “We play a very difficult schedule in the soccer world. West Lafayette, Harrison, McCutcheon, Plymouth and Argos, all those are quality soccer programs, not to mention Marion and Kokomo. Kokomo had a coaching change. The Marion coach went over to coach at Kokomo. That’ll be interesting. The conference will be tough and the sectional will be tough, but I think we’ve got the kids to do that.”
The Berries return a veteran group to go along with Jennings. Reiff said he’ll likely start seven seniors.
One of the key returnees is the reigning Cass County girls track athlete of the year, Ashley Spear.
“Ashley scored quite a few goals last year, so she’ll be back in that striker role, maybe in the outside defender role as well,” Reiff said.
Abby Geer and Mallory Rowe are two veteran outside midfielders.
“Mallory does a nice job at left outside mid. She’s a rare kid with the left foot and does that very well,” Reiff said.
Bailey Graham returns as one of the team’s top defenders. As does Haley Riemenschneider, another veteran defender back on the pitch for the Berries.
“She’s a tremendous player back there. She epitomizes the saying ‘great things come in small packages.’ She’s not very big but she’s a force to be reckoned with,” Reiff said.
Junior Sydney Thompson is also going to be counted on in the Berries’ backfield this season. Reiff said he plans to move her, Graham and Riemenschneider around to find the best defensive setup he can.
Sam Kain and Mariana Figueroa are in the mix at defensive roles.
The starting goalkeeper looks to be Karli Armstrong after the departure of Elaine Evanich.
“That’s a huge hole to fill,” Reiff said. “Elaine was tall and did a great job in goal. Karli has done a good job working hard during two-a-days. The boys coach, Mike Turner, runs that and has a lot of expertise at that position. Sydney Thompson will be her backup.
“We’re still working on who will be that other striker for us and who will be our outside defenders.”
Last year the Berries went 7-8-1 and lost to Kokomo 3-0 in a sectional game they allowed three goals in a six-minute span midway through the first half.
But Reiff is hoping his squad can pick up where it left off from the game at New Castle last year when the Berries scored three goals in a win after the Trojans entered having giving up just two the entire season.
“That was a great win at the end of the season,” Reiff said.
“We’ve got a great group of kids. The chemistry on the team has been great. We’ve had a lot of fun and we had a great two-a-days. I’m really looking forward to exciting things.”
Beau Wicker is the sports editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.