Veteran head coach Gilmar Guerra is banking on experience to help the Perry girls soccer team turn their 6-11 overall record last year on its head.
Perry was 2-5 in Raccoon River Conference play, and while losing only three seniors to graduation, the returning Jayettes could find several players taking the pitch in different positions.
“We are going to have to switch some girls to give us more offense,” Guerra said. “We have girls who can score, but they cannot score if we cannot get the ball to them. We will be working hard in the next few practices to see who can be moved where.”
Perry was outscored 51-30 last year. The Jayettes had 19 assists on their 30 goals, which came on a total of 98 shots on goal, or 5.8 per game, a number Guerra desperately wants to see increase.
“We have to shoot more,” he said. “There were times we were too cautious. We have to take shots when we have them and must do a better job of making good passes. Bad passes hurt us (last year).”
Of Perry’s 30 goals scored last year, players responsible for 24 (and all 19 assists) return. Sydney Guerra (10 goals, two assists) leads the way, with KC Gakfjen (8-2) close behind. Grace Marburger (3-6), Mariah Duffy (2-3), Haley Vaughn (1-2) and Mariah McNamara (three assists) and Natalia Kryger (one assist) are all back for another season.
Also returning is goalie Amparo Menedez, who made 93 saves. She will return between the pipes, but is being given a run for the starting spot by senior Victoria Hegstrom.
Guerra can play several positions equally well, and is likely to switch spots several times during a given match as the Perry coaches look to improve offensive possession.
Gafkjen, Marburger, and Duffy will also see plenty of time on the pitch, as will Salena Garcia, Joselyn Perla, Vivian Gonzalex, Natalie Martinez, Janet Ortiz, Vaughn and others.
Coach Guerra was reticent to name his starters, insisting that the unsettled state of who would play which position made it impossible to sketch out a likely starting 11.
“I don’t want to say something and then have us change our minds in the next week of practices,” he said. “One thing I do know is that if someone shows us they deserve to play they will. I want the players to play who give us the best chance to win and I do not care which girls it is.”
Perry has gotten off to slow starts in recent seasons, something their head coach has warned against repeatedly.
“Winning those first games is so important,” he said “because it makes us more excited and we play with more energy.”
One area causing unexpected problems for the coaching staff is, somewhat ironically, the large turnout at the junior varsity and freshman level.
“We have 40, 45 girls out who will not be varsity,” coach Guerra said. “That can be too many when it comes to giving everyone enough time. We don’t have the equipment, the goals to use, that kind of thing. It makes it very difficult to be organized and get things done at practice, but I am happy so many want to play soccer and am glad we don’t have the other problem of not having enough players like some schools do.”
Perry swings into action next week with visits Winterset Tuesday and Carlisle Thursday to open the season, with the home opener April 8 when Des Moines Hoover visits Dewey Field.