|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior Sydney Ossege makes her move against Campbell County on Monday. Ossege scored two goals as Highlands moved to 5-0 on the season with the 6-0 victory.|
Highlands rotated 22 players in and out and it helped beat the Campbell County Lady Camels, 6-0 Monday at Tower Park. Highlands stayed undefeated at 5-0 and has outscored the opposition, 16-0 as junior goalkeeper Olivia McQueary recorded her fifth shutout of the season. Defenders Karolyn Lukjan, Parker Price, Hannah Hartman and Hannah Gish pitched in on that effort.
Highlands has not started a season 5-0 since the 2005 state championship team that began the season with 11-0. The 2006 state championship squad opened the season 10-0-2 and the 2007 team started 10-0-3.
"We spent more practice time this season so far on situational defense than the last three years combined," said Brian Wiefering, Highlands Head Coach. "They each have very specific defensive responsibilities based on opposing formations - where the ball is on the field, what the score is, and many other factors. There is a lot we have demanded from them in remembering within a split second these situational tactics that require them to be very disciplined. We also have defined what a hard work rate is, and nothing less is acceptable. They seem to have bought in and do a great job in pushing and supporting each other."
Freshman Maria Wiefering and senior Sydney Ossege scored twice for the Ladybirds with freshman Ali Gessner and junior Kylie Stava scoring the other two. Ossege leads Highlands with four goals on the season and an assist for a team-high nine points. Gessner had four assists with Kiersten Clukey and Maria Wiefering adding one each.
The Highlands coaching staff rested standout center defender Sophie Steppe and sophomore standout forward Lindsey Meyer. Steppe had played all 80 minutes of the first four games.
"We have a ton of experience and talented newcomers," said Claudia Hils, Highlands senior. "We have a great team camaraderie and that helps a lot. That definitely play well off each others' strengths."
Coach Wiefering said the team has come a long way passing the ball. But the Ladybirds are still not where they want to be offensively. The 2005 and 2006 Highlands state championship teams outscored opponents, 62-7 and 64-7 respectively.
"We are not always making the best decisions with our passing or making the best movement off the ball," Coach Wiefering said. "It's an improvement from years past, but for us to be a state contender, we have to get better in that area, with and without the ball on the offensive end. I know that I and the coaching staff are most pleased with their overall work ethic, and seeing these girls enjoy playing soccer and building such great relationships."
Highlands plays host to Bellevue on Wednesday to open 36th District action. Game time is 4:30 p.m.
Rosary Service for McKenzie Hicks:
Coach Wiefering said a rosary service is taking place for 2009 Highlands graduate and former soccer player McKenzie Hicks. It begins at 7 p.m.
"I invited the team to join me," Coach Wiefering said. "Hopefully, a church full of peoples' prayers can give her the power she needs to beat this thing."
On Facebook on Aug. 3, Hicks announced a scan revealed more multiple new cancerous sports on her right lung. Hicks hoped a new chemotherapy treatment plan would get the cancer back in remission.