Things are a bit different this season for the West Clermont Lady Wolves soccer team.
At this time last year, the team was in the midst of the transition from two teams to one, thanks to the merger of Glen Este and Amelia High Schools. This season, there is no merger to worry about, though head coach Amy Kemmer said last season’s team still had a good season.
“Last season was great, considering it was our first year as a program,” Kemmer said. “I think we were very successful. We ended up right in the middle of the ECC, we were fourth. We were a half-game out of third place. We had a little over a .500 record, a winning season. I think we were very competitive, we earned the 12 seed out of 30 teams in the Southwest Ohio district, which is really good.”
This offseason wasn’t as focused on putting the team itself together. Instead, Kemmer and West Clermont worked on building culture.
“We brought in a team camp called Competitive Edge, and that got us started in the right direction,” Kemmer said. “We just wanted to build on what we started last year and focus on a positive team culture. We wanted to focus on who we are, who we want to be and what kind of legacy they want to leave as players. That’s really been our big focus, focusing on the team and not on individuals.”
This year, the team will be without eight seniors, including first-team all-ECC performer Anna Smith and second-team honoree Kayleigh Strauss. Kemmer said that senior class helped lay the foundation for the team’s future.
“They got us off to a really great start,” Kemmer said. “They showed that we’re an up-and-coming program. I’d say they left with a team that got a first-round bye in the tournament. We lost in the second round in a shootout, which was hard to swallow. It was a respectable season. They left the group knowing that we started strong, we want to keep that momentum and earn respect in the city. Hopefully we can build something that can be even bigger outside the city of Cincinnati, eventually.”
The 2018 team has a host of returning talent, starting at goalkeeper. Senior Mackenzie Ellis will continue her career in college at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. Fellow senior Kendall Simpson and junior Sam Zeigler are expected to help lead the team defensively, with senior Megan DeWald anchoring the Lady Wolves’ offensive attack at striker.
DeWald finished last season fourth in the league in goals scored with 11, and her 28 total points were good for fifth overall. Teammate Kaya Vogt tallied seven goals and eight assists last season for West Clermont.
Kemmer said she expects DeWald to continue her scoring prowess while also setting up other players on the West Clermont squad.
“She was one of the leading scorers in our team last year, and I think she ranked pretty high in the conference as well in goals scored,” Kemmer said. “I look for her to put a lot of goals in the back of the net and provide a lot of opportunities for others too. I think it’s definitely going to be a team effort. From what I’ve seen so far this preseason we’ve got a decent defense, we’re working on the midfield. We’ve got a lot of hard-working, unselfish players. I’m really excited about what we could possibly do.”
It won’t be easy to score against the teams on West Clermont’s schedule this season. Kemmer said in addition to a tough conference schedule, the Lady Wolves also have several non-conference opponents who will challenge the team this season.
“We’ve got a pretty tough schedule,” Kemmer said. “The ECC is a strong conference. I’d say it’s right up there with the GMC and the GGCL. Our non-conference opponents are also pretty strong. You start off the season with Western Brown for Friday Night Fútbol, they always have a decent team. We play Fairfield again, the top team in the city last year. We’re in the same league with the defending state champions, Loveland. There’s no cupcakes, we have a pretty strong schedule and we respect all of our opponents.”
In terms of goals for the season, Kemmer said the Lady Wolves hope to build on last season’s results while competing for the ECC this year.
“I know the girls want to at least equal what we did last year, if not better,” “They want to get in the mix for a league championship. We definitely want to be a contender, a team our opponents are fearful of. We’d like to be a top-three finisher in the league. They also want to get at least to the second round of the tournament. One of their goals was to play well together and play well for each other, they’re really buying into that team culture.”
Kemmer finished by saying how much she enjoys coaching the group of players at West Clermont.
“I think as a unit we can definitely make some things happen,” Kemmer said. “I think we might surprise some people this year. I’m excited about the group I have, they’re a great group of kids. I enjoy being with them.”
West Clermont opens the regular season on Friday, August 17 with a home game against Western Brown.