By Jeremy Behnke
Journal Sports Editor
NEW ULM - Most teams would be satisfied with a 13-4-1 season.
The New Ulm girl's soccer team is happy about last year's success, yet feels there's plenty of unfinished business to take care of.
The Eagles lost a 1-0 shootout against New Prague in the second round of the Section 2A playoffs. While that loss stings, the Eagles return eight starters and are determined to forget the past and forge a new identity this year.
The Eagles start the season on Friday at South Central Conference rival Waseca. For senior defender Sarah Petersen, it's her last chance to make a deep playoff run.
She's been on varsity since midway through her seventh-grade year and the time has certainly gone fast for her.
"It's really surreal," Petersen said. "It's been so long, it doesn't feel like it I guess."
New Ulm coach Jonathan Johnson said Petersen has vastly improved since her time as a seventh grader on varsity.
"She's an excellent captain,"?Johnson said. "I chose her last fall just because she has the best soccer attitude out of all of the girls and she constantly works on her conditioning and is always wanting to know what to do to improve."
The Eagles have had a lot of success over the last few years. They don't expect that to change this year with a good mix of veterans and young players who can quickly fill the shoes of those who have graduated.
"I think we have a good chance," Petersen said. "We have a lot of players who have been on varsity here a few years and we have some new players. I think it's just a good mix."
New Ulm's defense should be tough again, centered around junior goalkeeper Claire Boeder. Boeder is new to the position and she fills in for Shelby Smith, who graduated last year.
The Eagles specialize in limiting their opponents to get off shots, which should help their new goalkeeper.
Smith finished last year with 101 saves.
While they expect to be successful, there are a few things they want to work on.
"We want to take it one game at a time, and I think one of the things we want to work on is taking our penalty kicks, so we can be mentally and physically ready," Petersen said.
The Eagles have had some unfortunate injuries in years past. This year they appear to have more depth at a lot of the positions, something that will help come playoff time too.
"I think we play well together as a team, and we have a lot of girls who can play multiple positions, so I think it's just about finding which position each player is best at," Petersen said.
The Eagles did lose their top scorer from last year in Monica Illikman, who finished with 12 goals and six assists. Peyton Lewis is back for her senior year and she scored nine goals and had three assists.
Another top scorer back is Nicole Moldstad, also a senior. She had 10 goals and four assists for the Eagles. Senior Martha Balge scored eight goals from her midfield position a year ago and Bridget Brown had five goals and three assists.
The Eagles have six seniors, including Petersen, Lewis, Moldstad, Balge, Maggie Rauh and Britta Palmer. Others include Boeder, Allison Rosenhammer, Bekah Hoppe, Hannah Paustian, Catherine Jensen, Jordan Reinhart, Libby Marti, Lydia Schoof, MaryEllen Raverty, Megan Laraway, Syrena Meyer, Taylor Gag and Teresa Howard.