Senior leader

Senior defender Jessica Camarato is just one of a handful of Norskies who return with varsity experience this spring.

The last time the DeForest girls soccer team stepped on the pitch in 2019, the Norskies were playing in their first WIAA sectional semifinal in four years and the program had high hopes moving forward.

Like all spring teams, the Norskies lost the 2020 season to the pandemic and the momentum gained from the sectional run was lost.

“The lost season has just driven our players to an extremely high level,” DeForest coach Tim Esser said. “Our senior core led by Jess, Anabelle, Mallory Taylor, and Lexi Kulow have been planning and practicing with the expectation of finally getting back out on the field.”

The Norskies finished the 2019 campaign with an overall record of 10-6-3. They lost 5-2 to Oregon in the sectional semifinals.

The Norskies went 3-3-1 in the Badger North Conference in 2019 and placed fourth behind Waunakee (7-0), Sauk Prairie (5-1-1) and Mount Horeb (5-1-1).

With just two starters returning from the 2019 squad, DeForest will have a lot of new faces. But that does not change Esser’s expectations.

“Our goals are to compete for a conference title,” Esser said. “Regardless of new players, a lost season or injuries, our expectations for ourselves are always high. The season will be a success if we can take a step forward each game. We won’t have the practice days in between games that we’re used to so being able to learn from our mistakes at an accelerated rate will be the key.”

The Norskies return three keys players with varsity experience, including senior defender Jessica Camarato, junior midfielder Maya Pickhardt and senior defender Anabelle Albers.

“Jess can play anywhere on the field,” Esser said. “She’s as versatile of a player as we’ve had in the program and this year will anchor the defense with Anabelle. Anabelle hasn’t played in three years. She was an honorable-mention all-conference player as a freshman, but was lost to an ACL injury prior to her sophomore year. Maya will hold down the middle of the field with her skill and athleticism. We look for big things from her after a strong freshman season.”

Also looking to make an impact this season are Meta Fischer (So., goalie), Grace Kuiper (Fr., midfield), Izzy Grothaus (Sr., midfield), Mallory Taylor (Sr., defender), Sarah Dollak (Jr., midfield), Kyra Lange (Sr., midfield), Lexi Kulow (Sr., forward), Delaney Lokken (Jr., midfield), Lilly Neuman (Jr., forward), Aysha Romeis (Sr., midfield), Karina Kuzdas (Fr., midfield/forward), Cerys Ridd (Sr., midfield), Elyse Snortum (Fr., defense/midfield), Amber Westra (Jr., midfield), Bree Wilkinson (Jr., defense), Ellie Doucette (So., defense) and Rylan Oberg (Fr., forward).

“Our strength is definitely our cohesion,” Esser said. “We have a team of 20 players who absolutely love being around each other which drives them to work even harder in practice. Our weakness will be our inexperience. We only return two starters from our regional championship team of 2019. We very confident in our new players but we have to catch them up to varsity speed and aggression.”

With a shortened season, the Norskies will not have much time to gel.

“The shortened season has forced us to carry a larger varsity team than we’re used to,” Esser said. “With a minimum of three games each week, we need the extra legs to make it to the end of the season.”

DeForest opened the spring with three victories last week. The Norskies will look to add to the hot start at Waunakee at 7 p.m. this Friday.

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