The Ripon High school girls’ soccer team enters the season looking to replace five starters from last season including an all-conference goalkeeper and the team’s all-time leading scorer.

This would be a challenge in most seasons, but with cold weather and their first game coming after a little more than one week of practice, the challenge looks to be greater this year.

However, Ripon head coach Dana Scott has already received one piece of good news.

Junior Alissa Balke has joined the team and will step into the goalkeeper position.

Although Balke is inexperienced, Scott noted she is picking up the basics quickly.

“Alissa has good size for a keeper and great athleticism,” Scott said. “I am sure there will be early season mistakes as she sees her first games, but she has the potential to be a super keeper for us. This fills a big hole and takes the pressure off as we try to figure out who will fill some of the other holes.”

Of the returning starters, senior captains Cara Pedigo and Sarah Salas are expected to stabilize the defense and supply some offense respectively, with junior Nalani Amsden creating opportunities in midfield.

Junior Esther Rodman figures to step out of the back four to play a holding midfield role to free Amsden to attack more, and junior Aubrey Schoff will slide from a wide defender position to pair up with Pedigo in the center of the back four.

Scott noted that this leaves less-experienced returning players competing with new players for the remaining positions, and she feels she has seen too little of any of the players to know what to expect.

Read the full story in the April 3, 2014 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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