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Building on success

—Photo by Paul DeCoursey Area players for the Iowa Central women’s soccer team are, left to right: Makenzie Fuller, Mara Crimmins, Raeya Love, Leah Thompson, Amber Westling, Ashley McLuckie and Juana Medel Martinez.

There will be a heavy local flavor to the Iowa Central women’s soccer team this fall, as three former Fort Dodge Senior High standouts return for their sophomore seasons.

The Tritons went 13-3 overall and finished 8-1 in the ICCAC a year ago, placing second behind Iowa Western. They advanced to the Region XI final before falling to the Reivers.

Ex-Dodgers Mara Crimmins, Raeya Love and Makenzie Fuller all saw time on the pitch as newcomers to the team, and return as key experienced players for head coach Jared Beauchamp.

“I feel a lot more prepared this year,” said Crimmins, who made the all-ICCAC second team. “As a freshman, I came in just looking to get decent playing time and figuring out what college soccer is all about. This season, I’ve got goals set to hopefully not only improve myself, but my team too.”

Crimmins made 15 starts and appeared in all 16 matches last year, recording six goals and three assists for 15 points. Love started 13 and had one assist with Fuller recording four goals.

“In terms of playing-wise, I’m ready,” Love said. “I know what some of the (opposing) teams are like and what to look forward to. This season was way easier to go in to. I know all the sophomores and the freshmen became familiar with us in no time.”

Bruna Bielski had two goals and seven assists last year, Dara Guimaraesa started 11 matches and Kaylee Oehler had 13 saves in four games. A total of 12 sophomores return for the Tritons, who were crowned national champions in 2015.

“We have a great core coming back from last year and we’re able to replace some key players that we lost,” Beauchamp said. “We are looking strong and looking forward to another great year.”

Another former Dodger, Leah Thompson, is also on the roster along with Humboldt native Amber Westling and Manson Northwest Webster grad Ashley McLuckie.

Iowa Western is the preseason favorite after reaching the NJCAA semifinals last year, as they chase a 14th consecutive league title. Indian Hills was tabbed second and Iowa Central third by the coaches.

The Triton men went 10-4-1 overall last year and finished fourth in the ICCAC with a record of 8-2. They have been predicted to place fifth this year in the conference race, which would advance them to the regional tournament.

Under third-year head coach Pablo Rodriguez, Iowa Central found its groove late last season, winning 10 of its final 13 matches. Rodriguez is 23-7-1 overall and 14-5 within the conference.

“We look to be a competitive team,” Rodriguez said. “This is arguably the most competitive region in the country.”

Sophomore Jemali Zarnadze returns after recording three goals in 11 matches last season on 11 shots. Phillipos Georgiou and Ahmed Abdalla join Zarnadze as sophomores back with experience.

Key newcomers who will look to fill the void left by the departed Guillaume Rouzic and Patrick Ndabaruta include Jehovany Rivera, Danijel Bozic, Jaheem Hayles, Ezekiel Foltz, Leonardo Reis Cavalcante, Noah Webster, Ricardo Wlhe, Karl Lundberg, Andrija Milenkovic, Wilfried Houeto, Christian Koffi and Devin Vita.

Rilee Miller will be an assistant coach under Rodriguez.