The experience level of the Moffat County High School girls soccer team can be summed up with one look at the goalie's gloves. They're bright white, and barely used.
"I guess those could represent our team," coach Lori Smith said. "We have some learning to do."
Smith is the fourth head coach in as many years for the program. The team took a big step last year with its first win in its nine-year history in the Western Slope League. They ended up with a 3-8-1 record.
"A good goal would be to improve on last year's finish," Smith said. "A .500 record in the league would be nice."
Smith thinks her team is in better condition than last year's team.
It's a good thing because the Bulldogs will need to be in better shape considering the numbers out for the team.
Last year's squad had 28 girls. With the graduation of seven seniors and a couple of girls not coming back out for the team, numbers are down to 15.
"We have been running a lot more," senior Stephanie Braselton said. "Every night we do some sort of running, but it will probably be good since all of us will play a lot."
Braselton was the team's top scorer last year with five goals. She has set the goal of scoring at least seven this year.
"How many am I going to score this year?" she asked senior Jessica Sorensen.
"Ten," Sorensen said.
"How about seven," Braselton said.
"You need to score ten for us to win some," Sorensen said.
Smith held fall and winter sessions for the team in hopes of making a habit of playing all year.
"If we want to build the program we can't just play soccer in the spring," Smith said. "We had an OK turnout, but I hope it will build in the future."
The future could have been the freshman class from last year. Jessica Uecker, Brittany Rummel and Maggie Blackstun all had significant playing time for the most successful soccer team in MCHS history. This year only Uecker is left, with Rummel moving to Steamboat Springs and Blackstun not playing.
"We have had some new people come out to fill some spots," senior Ashley Hutton said. "I think our team chemistry is going to be good."
The fundamentals of moving when away from the ball and setting up teammates for a pass have been several of the focuses at the beginning of the season.
"We always have to go back to the fundamentals," Braselton said. "It's just where our program is at."
Freshman Heather Brown is learning the fundamentals of goal keeping. She played a couple of times in the fall and her new gloves have been getting broken in during the last week.
"She is extremely coachable," Smith said. "She volunteered to help the team out by being keeper and that is a very unselfish move that deserves credit."
Brown and the Bulldogs will be first tested March, 25 against Aspen.
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org