By Daniel Mohrmann
Our starting 11 is going to be very solid. — Madrid Mack
The Manitou Springs girls soccer team is rolling into the 2023 season with veteran experience on the attacking side of the field.
The experience overall, however, is a tad thin throughout the roster.
The senior group of Madrid Mack, Erica Sherwin, Cassidy Kuzbek and Sami Benge-Kulzer will give the Mustangs a good front-end presence where starting fast may be essential to the team’s success.
“Getting a few goals early in the games will be key,” Mack said. “It’ll help us relax and save our legs a little bit.”
Saving legs will be crucial as the Mustangs have a very good starting 11, but the bench is a little thin. When looking at how that affects play on the field, coach Ben Mack would like to see his team work on building its attack from the backline moving forward, although at times that may be a challenge.
“Any good team needs to be able to build from the back with possession,” he said. “The problem is, the back is where we’re the most inexperienced. That’s going to be true probably all season.”
That’s why early goals are going to be essential to the Mustangs’ success. That was the case last season, as well. Manitou had just four games in which the team scored fewer than four goals. They went 0-3-1 in those games. Scoring early and often is naturally the key to success for any team, but it may have to be the strength for the Mustangs through the course of the season.
Luckily for them, a high quantity of upperclassmen will provide the leadership necessary in that regard.
“We have a lot of seniors this year,” Madrid Mack said. “We have a thin roster, but it’s experienced thin. Our starting 11 is going to be very solid.”
They’ll get to see exactly how solid as the Mustangs open the season with a pair of playoff teams. They’ll see Vanguard on Tuesday and follow up with CSCS just two days later. The fortunate part of jumping out to a tough start is that Manitou gets the CSCS game at Richardson Field.
After going 11-3-1 in the regular season last year, the Mustangs will be looking for a similar result in 2023. Getting two wins over tough opponents to start the year could help set the tone for the season. Especially if the front line is able to bury early goals.
After just one week of the season, the full potential of this team could very well be on display.
MANITOU SPRINGS GIRLS SOCCER
Head coach: Ben Mack
2022 result: 13-4-1, lost in Class 3A quarterfinals
Key returners: Sami Benge-Kulzer, Cassidy Kuzbek, Madrid Mack, Nici Sharon, Erica Sherwin
First contest: Tuesday, March 14, vs. Vanguard