“I’ve got girls that can play all over the field and I’ve never had that before,” Jackson said.
“It helps us out a lot. It makes us a lot more versatile. it’s a game-to-game situation how we play people.”
Jackson is leaning on a senior class that includes defenders Emily Hawkins, Cheyenne Rayl and Tricia Hayes, center midfielder Chassidy Lenn, midfielder Tifanee Achor, and forward Bre Buckalew (five goals last season).
Other key returners are junior goalie Sybil Johnson and sophomore midfielder Sarah Connolly, the leading returning scorer with seven goals. Two freshmen are expected to make an instant impact: defender/midfielder Jenna Seaman and midfielder/forward Emma Harbaugh.
“I think we’re going to be a pretty quick team, good passing. We have a real good goalkeeper, strong defense,” Jackson said. “It’s going to be real interesting to see how we stack up against other teams.”
Jackson said the team’s biggest weakness going into the season is not being familiar enough as a group. Several knots of players have been together with the Panthers or in club ball but they’re not yet fluid as a whole squad.
The coach expects that to develop and hopes to wedge her team in the hunt for hardware.
“They’re really wanting to win MIC this year,” Jackson said. “Last year we came close with [games against] Northwestern and Eastern kind of down to the wire each game. We’re definitely on the lookout, watching Hamilton Heights — they’re the biggest competition in the conference. We’re looking to take it this year.”
The Titans return 10 players as they look to take steps forward after a 1-13-1 season.
“I have a lot of girls again this year that don’t have a lot of experience with soccer, but are willing to do their best and pick it up as quick as they can,” Taylor coach John Piotrowicz said.