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Lady Dragons ready for the challenge

August 11, 2019

alyssa poisel goalieARGOS – If it were a game of numbers Argos coach Joe Stone would have come out on top returning more seniors than he lost. But for this year’s version of the Lady Dragons, it goes deeper than that.

“I lost four seniors from last year but I have six returning,” he said. “My senior leadership is incredible, so I’m excited about that.
It hasn’t been a smooth ride in the pre-season however, with a little bit of adversity already mixed in with the loss of Taylor Dowdle for her senior season but Stone is confident of his team rising above it, even before the year starts.
“She’s a three-year starting defender,” he said. “It (an injury) actually happened last year and when she went to get her sports physical this year they found some things. It was unfortunate and really kind of a heartbreaker.”
“It’s adversity right at the start but the good thing is that I have some underclassman who are ready to step in and take over,” he said. “Payton Betz who’s a senior and Lauren Hampton are the other two starting backs and they are taking the younger girls and molding them for the season right now. Which is another reason I’m excited with my senior leadership.”
Another move involves a change in goalkeeper. Last year’s outstanding starter will be looking at the goal from another direction.
“She (Amani Gonzalez) came to me during the summer and said she really wanted to play out in the field this year and I said ‘let’s see what we can do’”, said Stone. “Right now the goalkeeping reins are falling to Alyssa Poisel.”
“It’s one of those things, I’m willing to try anything and I have faith in our defense,” he said. “Alyssa has come a long way, working hard with our goalkeeping coaches she’s made huge strides so I’m pretty confident.”
“We are switching up formations this year, there are four girls sitting in front of that goal to help out,” said Stone. “Morgan Dunlap was a midfielder/striker last year, this year she is a midfielder/defender and she does it well. That really settles things back there.”
Some newcomers mixed with some veterans will make things easier.
“There will be four or five freshmen that will see time this year and they have impressed me, I am fortunate. I had 28 girls come out this year and all 28 are working hard,” said Stone. “Morgan Dunlap is back, she was just voted captain, and during our scrimmages this summer she’s been a focal point and a great leader for us.”
Just as Argos boys head coach Todd Vanderweele commended his team’s selflessness in preparing for their new season, Stone had been impressed with the same quality in his girls.
“Maybe it’s something in the water here in Argos, and I’m the head of the water plant so I don’t even know,” he said with a laugh. “Hannah Trump played nothing but striker for me last year but during the scrimmages, I played her on defense and she’s performed well.”
“It doesn’t matter where I put any of them,” he said. “I put Morgan (Dunlap) in goal during the middle of the summer and she did a wonderful job. That’s one good thing about our (youth) program we play girls all over the place all the time and that will get you to see varsity field time a lot quicker than basing everything on one position only.”
“It makes my job a lot easier,” said Stone. “My job is just to get the right 11 out there and it’s worked out for us.”
“Defensively I think we are better than we were last year,” he said. “There are some trust issues right now but it’s coming along well. We had 38 goals last season and we had seven of those in the final game of the sectional. We may struggle to put the ball in the back of the net, but we haven’t had a true striker for a while.”
The success bar is pretty high for any Argos soccer team and Stone is confident that his team measures up well.
“I’d really like to play in the regional final again,” he said. “We did last year and we got beat by a really great team in Wheeler. But that’s something that we strive for at Argos is getting better every game.”
“I’d like to see us maybe even get further than that,” he said. “It’s been a while since we’ve done that at Argos and I’d like to see it. I know what these girls are capable of.”