MHS girls soccer team will use postseason experience in attempt to reach new heights for 2022
Returning its three best goal scorers, the Mitchell High School girls soccer team has its expectations set for next season.
MITCHELL — The Mitchell High School girls soccer team is aiming for Eastern South Dakota Conference and postseason success this 2022 season.
Coming off a graduation class of 11 seniors last season, the Kernels finished the year with a 5-8-1 record and a first-round loss in the Class AA state tournament to Rapid City Central. Despite losing a game they feel they let slip away, that experience will only serve as fuel for Mitchell this season.
Coming into this season, Mitchell returns all three of its leading goal scorers and head coach Bob Lemon said the team needs to be competitive in every game this season, in preparation for what’s to come in the postseason. The Kernels received votes in the preseason Class AA girls rankings issued by the South Dakota High School Soccer Coaches Association.
“Any time you have an opportunity to get into the playoffs, you’re gaining more experience and that is going to be critical for these girls this season,” Lemon said. “We were disappointed in how the year ended, we all hoped to go further, but we had young players get playing time last year and now we won’t be surprised by the different atmosphere this upcoming season.”
Despite still having a young team filled with 14 sophomores and five freshmen, Mitchell still has a good chance of covering new ground in the postseason, including getting a playoff victory, a hurdle in each of the last three seasons.
The Kernels return leading goal-scorer and first-team ESD as well as first-team all-state player in Mia Mullenmeister. She notched 21 goals last year, including the two goals in the postseason.
Taylin Deckert, who Lemon says solidifies the defense and keeps everyone in position, is also returning to the team coming off a season in which she received an all-ESD honorable mention selection. The other two leading goal-scorers in Taryn Thomas and Kenzi Kayl will also be back, but Lemon said in order to reach the goals they have set, they need to win games by committee.
“We have our girls that will lead us primarily on offense and defense, but we truly have a team by committee in a sense where we have 6-8 girls that can run in and out and are equally skilled,” Lemon said. “We’re going to need others to step up and work together to figure out what positions they need to be in.”
Adding to the depth of the Kernels roster is Adelyn Prunty, who elected to not play last season and run cross country. Prunty was once a starter for Mitchell two years ago but is now back on the team playing midfield and Lemon said she’s a player who will help out immensely with her experience.
“There’s some positions across the midfield that we aren’t exactly sure what they’ll look like but they’re changing day-by-day and we’re figuring it out,” Lemon said. “The midfield is critical when you’re trying to maintain possession and transition from defense to offense so it's important that we get that right.”
Lemon says the team will need to solidify the midfield and continue to give their all each time they take the field.
“Our goal is to be competitive in every game in the ESD and we’re not looking past anybody,” Lemon said. “It would be great to win the ESD but in order to do that we have to bring it every night. We know that Harrisburg is a deep team and Aberdeen is one of the best in the state, but we have to play well against everybody and give our best effort every game.”
Mitchell’s first game of the season is Friday, Aug. 12 against Harrisburg, beginning at 4 p.m. at Joe Quintal Field.