By Michael Selecky

Sports Editor

Because the Mexico varsity girls soccer team plays four of its' first five regular season games at home, including North Central Missouri Conference contests against Hannibal on April 2 and Marshall on April 3, the time for preparation has past and the time for winning is now.

Considering what follows is at least a seven-game road stand that starts April 5 with league play at Moberly, concludes April 20 with a non-conference matchup at Warrenton and is highlighted by a stop at the Spartan Invitational April 13-14, the Lady Bulldogs certainly have plenty ahead of them in 2018.

"I look for this team to become strong passers. We hope to move the ball quickly and skillfully up the field, breaking down defenses with strong purposeful passing," said head coach Haley Schafer. "As a team they communicate well and have great leadership from seniors and their goal keeper. This season a lot of old traditions will be returning. These girls have a lot of pride in the program and the past that has come before them. We are thankful to play this game on Chris Hotop Field."

Beyond harkening back to what made Mexico succesful in the past, Schafer also hopes to improve on the 5-16 overall record this team posted in 2017 by infusing it with new talent such as forward Kayleigh Wayman and defenseman Amelia Runge. She'll also be looking for greater defensive contributions from returning sophomores Rachel Kristofferson and Kaylee Jones.

"Rosanna McKeown (OM), Lacy Schoneboom (OM), and Jessica Dykes are returning sophomores who will make contributions on the offensive side of the field," Schafer said. "Senior captains Sophie McKeown (CM) and Kaelyn Denham (D) return as strong players from last season. Janae Nunnelly (OM), Starla Riportella (D), and Diane Mendez (M) round out this group of five seniors. Payton Bledsoe, a junior goalkeeper, will return also and will provide a big voice for the defense."

As for those lost to graduation by the Lady Bulldogs, that includes forward Abby Pascoe and defenders Greta Runge and Mahayla Turner.