Here's a look at this year's Jackson County girls' soccer team:
•Coach: Matt Maier
•Key players: Ivy Bell (Sr., forward-mid fielder), Montgomery Garland (Sr., midfielder) Kayley Medrano (Sr., defender)
•Strengths: Matt Maier’s team, three-time defending region championship, is strong at all levels this season with a mix of veteran leadership and “youthful energy,” according to the coach.
•Weaknesses: Past the Panthers’ starters, there’s not much experience on the bench. Maier said 17 freshmen tried out for the team with 10 making the varsity squad. That means all bench spots will be occupied by freshmen.
•Region outlook: As the reigning region champion three years in a row with a streak of 26 wins in 8-AAA play, Jackson County’s expectation is to win the region title. All eyes will be on the Panthers’ March 20 game at Jefferson. Jackson County won last year’s game in 11 rounds of PKs. “It was a good game last year and I expect it to be the same this year,” he said.
•Season outlook: As with the region, Jackson County’s expectation is to win the state championship. “We have the talent, skill and mindset to go all the way,” Maier said. “Now we just need breaks to go our way instead of the other way.”