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By Jocelyn Rowley

Girls Soccer: Dynamic mix of experience and youth


Photo by Ed Navarro Niwot High soccer seniors, (back row, left to right), Charlotte McCarthy, Meghan Jeske, Ella Miller; (front row) Luaren Wolf, Madison Barkow and Kailee Stobbe.

It’s that winning formula envied by high school coaches in every sport: veteran leadership with playoff exposure plus developing talent with the potential to surprise. In the constant turnover of high school sports rosters, that can be a rare combination, but Niwot girls soccer Head Coach Stephen Dimit thinks he’s found it in the 2017 Cougars squad.

“All the pieces are there,” he said. “It’s an interesting blend of a lot of experience and then some new players and different positions.”

Led by standout seniors Madison Barkow (MF) and Kailee Stobbe (F), Dimit said he expects to see an attack that can virtually score at will. Last season, Stobbe finished second in the Northern League in total points (38) and goals scored (13), while Barkow led the league in assists (10) and was eighth overall in points (22). Both recently signed on to play soccer collegiately, Stobbe at Merrimack College (Andover, Mass.) and Barkow at the University of Northern Colorado.

“They’re the two most exciting players to watch in the region,” said Dimit. “I think Stobbe and Barkow are going to get a lot of attention right off the bat.”

They will be joined by 10 other returning varsity players from the 2016 season including junior Anna McCarthy (F), who scored four goals and had eight points, and Meghan Jeske (HB), who had seven points. Seniors Charlotte McCarthy (MF), Lauren Wolf (MF) and Ella Miller (D), are also back on the varsity roster this year, as are juniors Sage Marten (HB), Kenzie Pasma (D), Roxie Pasma (D), Nazary Ramirez Tapia (D), and Mary Stischer (HB).

“What I’m really excited for is that we’ve got a whole lot of depth coming in right behind them,” he continued. “We have a chance to score a lot of goals in these games.”

On the other side of the ball, junior Allie Colvin is slated to return to her position as number-one Cougar keeper. As a sophomore, she averaged 3.9 saves per game, good for eighth in the conference. At this time, Colvin is the team’s only varsity goalie, but Dimit said he is training a sophomore and a freshman on the JV squad, and is confident the team will have a varsity number-two before too long.

“Allie’s all about competition, and she’s had a great first week,” said the coach. “She came right off the basketball court to us, and I’m very excited to see the season she puts together.”

Despite the seemingly upper-classman-heavy lineup, Dimit said that overall the team is “very, very young. We have a ton of freshman out. We have a number of sophomores who are seeing varsity for the first time, too.”

Of the 38 players out for soccer, 14 are ninth-graders, including Lauren Cranny (D), the only freshman to make varsity. There are another nine sophomores on the full squad, including varsity players Elise Crall (MF), Ava Dumler (MF), Sierra Keppler (MF), and Grace Knight (F).

Though 38 is about the same number of girls as in past years, Dimit said there weren’t quite enough total players to justify having a freshman-only or “C” team this season. Veteran coach Brett Butrick will handle the JV squad and Jeremy Drake, also a returning veteran, will serve as an assistant coach.

Dimit, in his first year as head coach at Niwot, is understandably eager to for the chance to build on the success of the 2016 Cougars, who had a good season record (10-6, 6-1), but an earlier-than-hoped-for exit from the playoffs. But if he is optimistic about his team’s chances this season, he also knows it’s not going to be a cake-walk through the Northern League, which has been dominated for the past two years by rival Silver Creek. Dimit believes the Raptors are also the team to beat season, but said the Cougars will be prepared when they come up on the schedule.

“When that game rolls around toward the end of the year, it’s definitely a target,” he said. “Preparing for that is going to be big for us. It’s going to be a really exciting game.”

This season, though, Dimit thinks the Cougars are destined for even bigger things. With Stobbe and Barkow at the peak of their talents, and robust additions on defense, the coach definitely has a league title on his mind.

“We put some very strong 4A teams on our non-conference schedule to make us better for league,” he explained. “I’m really hoping that by the end of the first month we’re going to not just be relying on the attack, but we’ll have a very strong defense as well.”

But if Dimit is hopeful for the team’s chances in 2017, he’s downright giddy about the years to come. With the influx of young talent, Dimit isn’t shy about predicting big things for this program.

“I’m very excited about the young players,” he finished. “They’ve bought into what we’re doing here, and I would say it’s a really great future.”

Niwot kicks off the season with a home game against Skyview on Mar. 9 at 4 pm. On Mar. 14, they go on the road to face the Standley Lake Gators.


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