Eagles ready for challenge

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By Brian Forbes

Trust is vital to any good relationship.

Defenders and goalkeepers are no different.

Dakota Ridge, already off to a 2-0-1 start to the season in which it has yet to surrender a goal, is trying to blend its experienced defense with a new goalie. The candidates between the pipes are sophomore Kelsey Elgie, who did not play last season, and junior varsity incumbent Rachel Roberts.

“Building trust is really tough in that situation,” Smerchek said.

But defense is the rock the Eagles will build their house upon this season, so getting that familiarity and communication in the back will be imperative.

“We’re going to defend successfully,” said Smerchek, the 2007 Jefferson County League coach of the year. “That’s where our best players are at, and that’s where our emphasis is at.”

Utilizing a short possession game that will develop and build out of the back, the Eagles could use a variety of strikers up top, including a few freshmen. The young attack, which Smerchek encourages to play creatively, remains a wild card.

This season the Eagles have displayed flashes of great linking soccer, while also falling prey to some big lapses.

The Eagles were seeded 20th in last season’s state tournament only to be bounced in the first round by Rocky Mountain.

When Smerchek looks around the league he sees two things: Competitiveness and a lukewarm talent pool. While that should make for an interesting and competitive run for the Jeffco crown, it means the local squads face a daunting task if they want to progress a state.

Chatfield’s tradition should go a long way in figuring the Jeffco champion this season, Smerchek said.

Coach: Damon Smerchek

Experience: Second season

2007 record: 9-5-2 (lost 1-0 in first round Class 5A playoffs to Rocky Mountain)

Returning players: Seven

Top players: Brittany Cito, Jr.; Emily Holley, Jr.; Jenny Hutton, So.