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Success in 2022, High Optimism in ’23 for Blue Dragon Soccer

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By Steve Carpenter, Hutchinson CC Sports Information Director (bluedragonsports.com)

 

After a pair of mediocre seasons prior to 2022, the Hutchinson Community College women’s soccer team made a huge step forward last season in head coach Sammy Lane’s mind.

The 2022 Blue Dragons posted a 14-4 record – Hutchinson had just 15 combined wins in the previous two seasons. But there was more to the results on the field for Lane. He saw a team come together on and off the field.

All those good vibes gave the only head coach in Blue Dragon women’s soccer history a needed infusion of soccer faith.

“Last year was a step in the right direction,” said Lane, who is 247-63-9 all-time in his first 18 years at Hutchinson. “I’m really optimistic about this year. Really optimistic about building on the success of last year. I really think we can compete for a conference title and try to make a run at a region title.”

Ranked No. 18 in the NJCAA Preseason Division I Poll and picked third in the Jayhawk Conference, the Blue Dragons open the 2023 season at 10 a.m. Sunday against Northeastern Junior College at the Salthawk Sports Complex.

The Blue Dragons return six players from last season’s 14-4 team that struggled at time to score goals consistently, but was stingy on defense with six shutouts.

The top returning offensive threat is Adriana Delgado (F, 5-foot-7, Maize South), who had six goals and two assists (14 points) as Hutchinson’s third-leading scorer. She had two overtime game-winning goals in 2022.

The other full-time starter returning is defender Kendra Brungardt (5-8, Wichita), who was a mainstay on the Blue Dragon back line.

Also back are forward Maren Lackey (5-5, Buhler), midfielder Jayda Wyatt (5-3, Wichita) and midfielder Abigahil Gallegos (5-5, Dodge City).

To bolster that group are a talented group of freshmen at all positions and four key transfers who came into the program this season.

The 2023 Blue Dragons do have a big hole to replace on the front line in two-time conference Offensive Player of the Year Hadlie Lowe, who is now at Emporia State.

“Last year it was pretty simple to defend us … double team Hadlie Lowe and see of somebody else can score,” Lane said. “This year, we are going to make it much harder to double team one player. We are running five or six kids deep up top.”

In addition of Delgado and Lackey are freshmen Katharina Marx (5-8, Saarbrucken, Germany), Maria Azevedo (5-5, Belo Horizonte, Brazil) and transfers Destiny Hoy (5-3, Wichita/Emporia State) and Haley Rogers (5-4, Maize/Washburn).

The Blue Dragons also have depth in the midfield, a huge plus from 2022.

Lane said high on Wyatt (5-3, Goddard Eisenhower), who was receiving a lot of NCAA Division I and II looks before an injury at the start of her senior season. Adding some offensive punch is transfer Tatiana Mayumi (5’1, Sao Paulo, Brazil/Blue Mountain Christian University). Those two players provide great ball handing and speed through the middle third of the field.

Lane is very high on freshman Kaitlyn Edwards (5-3, Wichita) and Jessica Salkeld (5’4, Newcastle, England).

“We some great midfielders last season, but they ran out of gas because we never took them out,” Lane said. “We have so much more depth in the midfield than last year. I see the potential for a lot more assists out of those players this year.”

Lane said the biggest questions about 2023 will be on the back end.

Freshman Karsyn Slothower (5-2, Maize) was an all-Wichita Metro goalkeeper last season.

In front of her will be Brungardt and Gomes as center backs. Sophomore Jade Martinez (5’6, Maize) is a transfer from Butler. Then there are freshmen Maelle Harnisch (5-8, Bordeaux , France), Kaylee Monk (5-6, Pryor, Oklahoma) will be among the first-year players battling for playing time.

“The question will be in the back,” Lane said. “How will the freshmen handle the pressure and how our goalkeeper does will be key. We look to limit shots on goal this year. We don’t want to give away set pieces and free kicks. If they can handle the nerves and the pressure and get comfortable and defend, I think we can be pretty good.”

After Sunday’s season opener, the Blue Dragons open Jayhawk Conference play on Wednesday at Garden City and will play its first league home match next Saturday with first-year program Seward County comes to the Salthawk Sports Complex.

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