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Mitchell High School girls soccer team will rely on internal improvement after graduating 11 seniors

After losing 11 seniors, the Mitchell High Schools girls soccer team has changed its expectations coming into this season.

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Mitchell's Mia Mullenmeister, left, dribbles past Sioux Falls O'Gorman's Grace Lent during a Class AA state tournament game on Tuesday at Joe Quintal Field. (Jeremy Karll / Republic)

The Mitchell High School girls soccer team lost 11 seniors due to graduation and the expectations have changed from the previous two seasons.

In each of the last two years, the team finished over .500 and had been trying to overcome that hurdle of their first playoff victory.

Coming into this season, Mitchell has one lone senior in Kennedy Knippling and three juniors. This offseason, players have been learning to play different positions, and make the necessary adjustments for the betterment of the team according to MHS coach Robert Lemon.

"Graduating such a large group we had last year, we have to reorganize and put the puzzle back together," Lemon said. "It's not necessarily a rebuild, but some players are being asked to play different positions than they have in the past. That's going to be the challenge early in the season, understanding new roles and responsibilities."

Another big challenge this upcoming season for the Kernels will be replacing Class AA all-state first team goalie Caroline Titze. Titze had 121 saves last season, 11 of those saves came in the 2-1 playoff loss to O'Gorman. Freshmen Tenley Peterson and Alexa Chapman will take on the challenge of replacing Titze, but have big shoes to fill.

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Despite the team having six sophomores and six freshmen currently on the roster, Lemon said the offense will be "very solid."

Mitchell does return leading scorer Mia Mullenmeister, who scored 19 goals in 2019, but only 13 goals last season due to an ankle injury that caused her to miss four games. Lily Peterson is another key returnee and she will now play the forward position alongside Mullenmeister to provide some speed up front. Defensive anchors Kennedy Knippling and Taylin Deckert will also be returning along with Ava Zilla.

"Certainly these girls come with a lot of experience," Lemon said. "Our sophomores have been playing since seventh grade and some of them have already started in a playoff game. We have a lot of experience and they are transferring that experience to the younger players."

The Kernels begin the season Friday at Harrisburg. Their first home game is Aug. 20 against Spearfish.

Related Topics: SOCCERGIRLS SOCCER
Branden is a sports reporter that graduated from Purdue University Northwest with a bachelor's degree in communications and a focus in journalism. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 and covers prep and collegiate athletics. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Full-Court Press, providing a weekly web-exclusive look at high school basketball throughout all of South Dakota. Branden can be reached at bhull@mitchellrepublic.com and found on Twitter at @bhullreports.
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