SPEARFISH | Spearfish High School girls and boys soccer teams return a solid nucleus of players for the 2019 season.
Returning letterwinners for the Spartan girls are seniors Taya Lucas, goalie; Lyndey Dean, defender; and Olivia Williams, midfielder.
Juniors letterwinners include Maia Pochop, defender; Shelby Swets, midfielder; and Halle Sjelland, midfielder.
Sophomores are Tessa Lucas, defender; Natalie Dean, goalie; Kiara Hunsley, midfielder; Hannah Schoon, forward; Dillan Richards, midfielder; Ashley Mailloux, midfielder; Taylor Fierbach, defender; and Emilee Hunsley, midfielder.
Ninth-graders are Hanna Bjorkman, midfielder; Breanna Dietrich, midfielder; and 8th-grader Brooke Peotter, forward.
Madiera Lister was the lone player lost to graduation.
"I think we're going to be competitive," said coach Katrina Huft. "We've got a young group of girls that played in the playoffs last year as freshmen and sophomores.
"Our team strength is the core group has played together for some time. They're going to turn some heads this year."
Coach Huft said youth is an area of concern. "They have a lot of heart and soul," she said.
"Our goal is to play a quick-paced passing game. We have a lot of returnees on defense," Huft said.
Spearfish posted three wins, six losses and five ties last season. Three of those ties were Black Hills Conference matches.
"We're all going to be pretty even," said Huft of the battle for BHC top honors.
"We played well against Rapid City Central and Rapid City Stevens in the past," Huft said of the outlook for West River AA foes.
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On the pitch for the boys, Spearfish returning lettermen include seniors Ryan Rafferty, defender; Ryan Peldo, midfielder; James Odenbach, midfielder; and Holden Owen, midfielder.
Juniors are Gabe Knudson, goalie; Brock Bacon, striker; Ben Wise, midfielder; Bridger Roberdeau, striker; and Yohannes Peterson, striker.
Sophomores are Robert Erskin, midfielder; Tyler Borchgrevink, midfielder; Bridger Meyer, defender; and Jensen Damberg, defender.
Lost to graduation from the 2018 squad were: Tim Doerges, Braeden Ferguson, Rigel Roberdeau, Weston Verhulst, Eli Riggs, Gene Glover and Jayden Deichert.
The Spartans went 12-3-2 and reached the semifinals of the Class AA tournament last year.
"We have some quality players," said coach Jim Hill, who was nominated as National Soccer Coach of the Year for boys soccer.
"We have a good group of sophomores, but lost some depth to graduation," he said.
"Overall our quick kids is our strength. The ability to finish a game when we get ahead is an area of concern," he said.
Spearfish is the defending BHC champion. Coach Hill views the conference as wide open.
"The teams have vastly improved. St. Thomas More, Sturgis and Belle Fourche have really improved," he said.
Hill favors Sioux Falls Washington in the State AA title chase.
"Washington won state last year and return a lot of quality players," said Hill.
Spearfish girls and boys teams begin the season at Huron Friday and Mitchell Saturday. The Spartans host Sioux Falls Roosevelt in the home opener August 23.