Another new spring has come, which means another exciting season from the Lakeland girls soccer team.

This season, the Thunderbirds come into the year with a variety of new and returning players, but that also means there are some departures. 

Olivia Killian, Riley Curtis and Zoey Ziebart have all graduated from last year’s team. Killian and Curtis were both first-team Great Northern Conference (GNC) while Ziebart was honorable mention. 

Killian led the team with 10 goals and 20 points. Her production will not be easy to replace, but they will try with the likes of returning players like seniors Erika Intrepidi and Sagen Quale.

Intrepidi was all-conference honorable mention and led the team in assists. Quale returns after scoring the fourth most points on the team. Joining them in returning is junior Abby Parris. She scored four goals a year ago.

But there are some exciting freshman as well. One of those freshman is Sophia Myshchyshyn. She will be a key member in the middle of field. Another freshman to get excited about is Leah Wolfe. They will be playing important roles for the Thunderbirds this year.

“We have a good group of freshman coming in that I’m excited to see play,” coach Stephanie Hartzheim said. 

These returning and new members of the team help replace those who have graduated, and will also help get to the top of the conference. The conference was dominated by both Ashland and Rhinelander last season. 

Not only could both of those teams score at least five goals a game, but they gave up less than one per game in conference play. In fact, both teams gave up just a goal a piece throughout conference play.

“Every year it’s a toss up on who’s going to win,” Hartzheim said.

With a record of 5-7 overall and 3-4 in conference one year ago, Lakeland will be looking to move up the conference ranks.

There will also be a new round-robin tournament at the end of the year. The top four teams play round robin and the bottom four teams play round robin. This will make sure all the games get played, especially with the weather.

“I think it will be exciting to see all of the teams play in a location and be able to really see all of the talent that we have in the GNC,” Hartzheim said.

The girls soccer season kicked off on Thursday, March 28 against Shawano Community. They hope it’s the start of what will be a memorable season.

Brett LaBore may be reached at brett@lakelandtimes.com or sports@lakelandtimes.com.