After five-year drought, Rangers confident for 2021

J. Patrick Eaken

In 12 years coaching Northwood girls soccer, Monte Bandeen’s teams are 91-78-16, but their last Toledo Area Athletic Conference championship was in 2016.

Before that, you have to go back to 2011, when Bandeen’s Rangers won the Northwest Ohio Scholastic Soccer League championship. Bandeen believes his team is due for another one, and he has 19 returning lettermen to back him up.

“As long as the girls play hard each game for the full 80 minutes we should finish near the top,” Bandeen said. “The TAAC is always competitive even though Ottawa Hills has won the league the past four years I feel any team could win the league including ourselves. We just have to make sure we play with a high level of effort every time we step on the field. 

“I feel our team's strengths are our experience, goalkeeping, and the ability to play a possession game. All of our girls have been playing at the varsity level since their freshman year logging a lot of minutes during that time.”

Bandeen just wants to see his team stay focused when they face the big opponents, or not playing down to weaker opponents.

“I feel our team’s weakness is consistency,” Bandeen said. “We need to play at a high effort level each time we set foot on the field to be successful,  instead of playing hard one game and not playing hard the next.”

Seniors back from last year’s team, which went 5-7-3 overall and 2-3 in the TAAC, are defenders Olivia Cox and Randi Wilson, midfielder Leah Stack, and forward Kylee Leonard. Wilson was a second team All-TAAC selections and Cox was honorable mention. Just getting Leonard back on the pitch is a step in the right direction.

“Kylee Leonard is coming back from surgery on both knees and is hungry to have a strong senior year. She is a tireless worker and puts the defense under pressure with her speed and effort. She was the team’s leading scorer her sophomore year,” Bandeen said.

 “I expect Leah Steck to have a strong senior season as she is very fast and has a lethal left foot. She also works hard to track back and help the defense when needed.”

Junior returnees include defender Regan Grant and goalkeeper Zoe Turner and sophomores include midfielders Natalie Thompson and Cassidy Genson and forward/midfielder Autumn Schroeder. Turner was first team All-TAAC and HM all-district and Schroeder was second team all-league. 

“I expect Autumn Schroeder to be another score threat for us up top. Her freshman year started off slow but as she gained confidence and got comfortable playing the high school level she started to become a real threat for us up top,” Bandeen said.

“I expect my two sophomore center mids Natalie Thompson and Cassidy Genson to have a strong season. Like Autumn, the more they got comfortable playing at the high school level the more dangerous they became last year. Each of them are strong with the ball at their feet and work extremely hard to gain control in the center of the field.”

Bandeen feels confident about the defensive side of the game, too.

“Randi Wilson, Olivia Cox and Regan Grant will anchor our defense this year. Randi is a big presence in the middle of the field who does a great job of winning the balls in the air and starting the offense with her speed and good foot skills,” Bandeen said.

“Olivia is a very smart player who puts herself in good positions to win 50/50 balls and defend players off the dribble. Last year was Regan’s first year playing defense for us and as the season went on she did a great job. She is extremely fast and isn’t afraid to get physical if she needs to.”

Turner’s job will be in the net, communicating with her defense and trying to keep soccer balls from getting past her.

“Zoe Turner will be our starting goalkeeper this year. Over the past two years she has kept us in so many games making big save after save,” Bandeen said. “I would put Zoe up against any our districts goal keepers in a big game setting. When we are playing our best we do a great job of keeping possession of the ball and not allowing our opponents to score.” 






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