Cassidy DeWitt boots a shot a goalkeeper Cassondra McVane during Marinette Marine soccer practice Monday in the P.F. Neverman Gym. The Marines will open their season tonight at Green Bay East. <br>EagleHerald/Jody Korch
Cassidy DeWitt boots a shot a goalkeeper Cassondra McVane during Marinette Marine soccer practice Monday in the P.F. Neverman Gym. The Marines will open their season tonight at Green Bay East.
EagleHerald/Jody Korch
MARINETTE - With a rock-solid defense and a goal scoring machine, the Marinette girls' soccer team has reason for optimism this spring.

The Marines return all but four players from last year's team which finished 10-8-1. They're picked to finish fourth in the Bay Conference, so the Marines may be playing with a chip on their shoulders.

Aim high, work hard, and who knows?

"I expect them to contend with every team," coach Chris Mahlik said. "I want them to set goals."

There's no secret about Marine junior Alex Cording, a first team all-conference player last year, when she tied for 12th in the state in Division 2 with 15 goals and 10 assists. Sophomore forward Morgan Russell could benefit from all of the attention that opposing defenses give to Cording.

Senior midfielder/forward Zoey Hallfrisch, junior midfielder Lily Kallestad, sophomore midfielder/forwards Jayden Schreiner and Ally Eldredge, and sophomore midfielder Cassidy DeWitt are other scoring options. Kallestad was a second team all-conference player last season.

"We have four or five scoring options on our team," Mahlik said.

But it all starts with defense on the Marines. Mahlik believes in building from the back end up.

"We've got ball control and speed," Mahlik said.

Sophomore Lexi Bohan and junior Martina Dura lead the defense. The speedy Bohan was an honorable mention all-conference pick last season, and Dura is an underrated defender who is much appreciated by her coaches.

"With Bohan and Dura back there I don't see anybody running by us," Mahlik said.

Junior Megan Veriha and sophomores Lexi Biehl and Eva Miller are other top defenders.

"I don't anticipate anybody racking up a ton of goals on us," Mahlik said.

The biggest question facing the Marines is replacing graduated senior Carrie Knutson at goalkeeper. Junior Cassondra McVane will start in goal for tonight's 6:30 p.m. season opener at Green Bay East. She has some experience between the pipes from M&M Youth Soccer.

Senior Shelby Atwood and Veriha also play goalie.

Other seniors include McKenzee Tibbits at midfield, and Portuguese exchange student Maria Nogueira, who has impressed the coaches.

Midfielder Alex Haight is the team's other junior.

Other sophomores include Katy Langer at forward and outside midfield; Amy Genisot at midfielder and defense; and midfielders Tiffany Ehlinger and Janet Bebo. Freshmen include Hannah McVane, Courtney Veriha, Krista Argall, Brynn Schackmann, Andrea Shaw, Katy Przewrocki and Lexie Chevalier.

Mahlik says he has better depth than in the previous two seasons.

This is the third year of Marine girls' soccer.

"What we've been focusing on us spacing, communication, first-touch ball control and passing with a purpose to somebody," according to Mahlik. "I think if we can do that we'll be fine."

They're also focusing on finer points of the game, such as executing set plays and marking on corner kicks.

Mahlik is assisted by Mike Dura. The volunteer assistants are Tim Plichta, Nils Coleman and Troy Cording. Paul Marquardt is the manager.