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Keeping an eye on Tigers

For the past several years now, the Coal City girls soccer team has had one clear goal — to beat Herscher. Either in the Interstate Eight Conference or most importantly, in regional action.
In each of the last four years now, the Lady Tigers have ended the Coalers’ season — in the last two years by scores of 1-0 and 2-0, respectively. That being noted, should it come as any surprise who Coal City will have circled on the schedule this spring.
“Manteno is returning from a great run in last year’s playoffs and Herscher will be extremely tough this year,” Coal City coach Mike Kostbade said.
Still, if ever Coal City was going to have a breakthrough season, this would be it. There are nine seniors on the squad this year, six of whom have played together at the varsity level since their freshman year.
“Offensively we possess a good ability to score from long range and from multiple positions,” Kostbade said. “Overall, our team speed is as strong as it’s ever been.”
Seniors on the team this year for Coal City include: goalie Sarah Sirovy, forward Jen Druse, midfielder Taylor Buck, midfielder Brynna Borgra, forward Megan Jessen, forward Alisha Johnson, midfielder Donjeta Shabani, defender Annie Hawkinson and midfielder Morgan Piehl.
With just one defender on that list, there is no doubt what Kostbade’s team is working hard on entering the season.
“We need to find the right combination of defenders and helping them gel as a unit,” Kostbade said. “Only two players are returning from last-year’s diamond four, so it will be important to get the pieces in place and find that same chemistry we had last year.”
Juniors on the roster this year include: midfielder Gabby Sanders, midfielder Brittany Jezik, defender Kristen Pearcy, defender Kayla Slakovich, midfielder Natalie Norris, midfielder Taylor McCollough, defender Britta Spelde and defender Courtney Torino.
Kostbade is hoping that his team will figure out what it takes to, not just win this spring, but to win tight  matches.
“We hope to compete better in the close matches,” he said. “If we keep our starting group healthy, our offense should be strong in possession and finishing. Look for our defense to, not only continue keeping the goal-count low, but they should also provide an extra dimension to the Coaler attack.”
Underclassmen on the team this year include sophomores Claire Pavlis, Alicia Matusiak and Danielle VanCura and freshmen Tori Knutson and Alyssa Gernenz.
Kostbade said that his team’s goals this season are three-fold.
“One, we want to finish above .500 in conference; two, we want to find more ways to score goals, including better production on set pieces; and three, with great effort and execution, to win the regional.”
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