2017: 9-12 (4-8 TVC-East; Lost in District Championship game, 7-1 to Almont)
Coach: Andrew Selich (4th season; 26-32-1 overall)
Key Returnees: F Elizabeth Selich, MF Makayla Bremer, D Gabby Kociba, F Regan Ostrander, F Taylor Wirsing, MF Rebekah Williams, D Shelby Dues.
Key Newcomers: GK Hannah Bees, D Sarah Simpson, MF Nikki Sherman, MF Emi Colman.
Selich, Bremer, and Kociba set to lead Cardinals in 2018
MILLINGTON – After graduating nine players from last season’s District Runners-Up varsity girls soccer team, Millington coach Andrew Selich knew that coming into 2018, he would have to look at rebuilding the majority of his roster. Having just eight players return from a year ago, the Millington Cardinals girls varsity team enters the new season with a roster of 21 girls, mostly new faces that will make up the team for the upcoming season. According to the coach, though, the perceived lack of experience on the roster is more than made up for in overall enthusiasm.
“Just being around these girls the first few weeks, there is a lot of excitement in the air,” Coach Selich said. “Every practice has a new level of intensity and enthusiasm, and that is really contagious. Sometimes, it’s good to have a large turnover on the roster, just to shake things up. And we do have some experienced and talented players returning this year to lead the way.”
Leading the way for the Cardinals in 2018 is a senior, four-year starter and returning Honorable Mention All-State Forward, Elizabeth Selich. Last year, Selich continued elevating her game, scoring a career-high nine goals, while setting a new school-record for assists in a season with 22. This season, Coach Selich will be looking to Elizabeth to score a few more goals for the Cardinals.
“Elizabeth has played the past three years with two of the best goal scorers this school has ever had,” Coach Selich said. “Now, in her senior year, she has to step up and provide more goal scoring for this team. And I have no doubt in my mind that she is going to be able to do it. She is a strong player, with surprisingly good feet and speed. And she fearlessly attacks the net like few players in the area.”
Elizabeth is the leading returning goal scorer for the Cardinals with 24 career goals. She has been selected First Team All-Conference in the Tri-Valley East Conference three straight seasons, as well as All-Area selections and All-District for three straight seasons. Selich will also serve as a Captain of the team for the third straight year.
Also back for the Cardinals in 2018 is senior midfielder and another Captain, Makayla Bremer. A four-year starter on the left side of the field, Bremer has established herself over the past three seasons as one of the most talented and most respected midfielders in the area. Not only is Bremer one of the best midfielders in the area, her versatility at other positions has been invaluable to the Cardinals over the past few seasons.
“With Makayla, you’re talking about a player that could play any of the 11 positions on the field,” Coach Selich said. “And play all 11 positions at a very high level. Not many players can do that. She prefers the left midfield position, and we try to use her athleticism to our advantage by using her as an attacker from that spot. But, if we need her in a pinch, she can play defense and be extremely effective there as well.”
Bremer enters her senior season with 23 career goals and 37 career assists. She has been named to the All-Conference team all three seasons and is a three-time All-District selection as well.
Anchoring the ‘back four’ for a fourth straight season is senior and the third Captain for 2018, Gabby Kociba. Pressed into action as a goalie her freshman season, Kociba has since established herself as one of the toughest defenders in the area, and one of the most respected defensive players in the Tri-Valley East Conference. Over the past two seasons, the Cardinals ‘Defense’ has set a school record with 15 shutouts, the most in school history over a two-year span, including eight shutouts in 2017. And Gabby Kociba is one of the main reasons the Cardinals set those records.
“Gabby has always been the youngest player on defense for the past three seasons,” Coach Selich said. “Now, she is our only returning starter on the back line, and we will be looking to her to provide on-the-field leadership to our new players. Gabby is as solid as a defensive player that there is in our conference, so the younger players have a great player to watch and learn from.”
Two other seniors return from the 2017 roster in forwards Regan Ostrander and Taylor Wirsing. Ostrander emerged last season as the Cardinals most improved player, improving her goal total from two goals in 2016 to seven goals a season ago. According to her coach, the improvement was the result of two things.
“Well, first of all, Regan got a lot stronger from her sophomore season to her junior year, and that showed in her speed on the field,” Coach Selich said. “But her daily focus and intensity, not only in practice, but in games increased as well. She started driving the ball to the goal, looking to finish and began challenging for 50/50 balls. I’m counting on Regan making a similar jump in improvement this season as well.”
Ostrander not only added seven goals in 2017, but also finished with 10 assists, both of which were career highs for the senior. For her efforts, Regan was selected Honorable Mention All-Conference last year, as well as being named to the All-District team for the Cardinals.
Wirsing missed several games down the stretch last season due to an injury, but is healthy and is eagerly seeking a return to her form she showed during her sophomore season in 2016. That year, Taylor scored eight goals and added nine assists in her first season on the varsity. According to her coach, she is healthy and ready to go.
“Taylor looks stronger and faster than a year ago,” Coach Selich said. “Her first year with us, she came out strong and finished with eight goals. Last year, due to injuries, she was pressed into playing midfield, which she does well. She then was injured, and that really hurt us. But this year she is healthy and eager to regain that form from her sophomore season.”
Other returning players to the team this year include junior midfielder Rebekah Williams, sophomore defender Shelby Dues, and sophomore defender Kendal Bowman. Senior midfielder Emi Colman is also back with the team after not having played in 2017.
Key newcomers include freshman Goalkeeper Hannah Bees, freshman midfielder Sarah Simpson, and sophomore midfielder Nikki Sherman. Other newcomers include juniors Madison Mohr, Kennedy Gamet and Becca Kilbourn; sophomores Moriah Babcock, Skyler Strickland, Haley Skunda and Alexa McTaggart; and freshmen Arial Lansford and Niah Grace Beckman.
“We have a young team, but with 21 players we also have a lot of depth with some good athletes on the roster,” Coach Selich said. “We will be very young on defense, but our front six have a lot of experience, and we should be able to score our share of goals this season. We hope to be competitive in what is always a strong Tri-Valley East Conference.”
The Cardinals open the 2018 season at home on Thursday, April 12, when they play host to the Railroaders of Durand High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.