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Youthful Archers Ready to Compete Immediately

August 10, 2012

Brittany Russell  
Brittany Russell could miss the first month of the season
recovering from an emergency appendectomy. Russell is the
the Archers' top returning goal scorer.

The first weeks of two-a-days are typically not the most enjoyable moments of any given season. Between multiple-mile runs at 6 a.m., practices at the hottest portion of the day, and the melding of personalities that is always a characteristic of early-season bonding, the first weeks of the year are often the most difficult.

Considering the ease at which Juergen Huettner’s women’s soccer team is clearing those hurdles, 2012 could be an exciting year for the St. Louis Community College squad.

Huettner’s first order of business during the offseason was offsetting the loss of multiple key offensive players. Three of the Archers’ top four scorers from a year ago were lost to graduation. In their place is a youthful, yet talented group of freshmen who will be expected to perform right away.

These early practices are particularly important for that group, as they make their first adjustments to the college game.

“It’s very important to build that trust with the players around you,” said freshman forward Donna Joliff (Seckman). “You’re going to need that on the field.”

Jolliff, among others, will be charged with the task of replacing some of the offensive production left behind by last year’s sophomore class. To speed her learning curve, Jolliff has shadowed sophomore forward Brittany Russell (Columbia, Ill.) closely, who finished second on the Archers with 11 goals last year.

In the season’s first month, Jolliff and the rest of the Archers’ forwards may be doing a lot more than playing alongside Russell. The Archers’ top returning scorer is slated to miss the next four weeks after an emergency appendectomy last Monday. Whether or not she’s able to return in the season’s first month, Russell does not expect a drop-off in the team’s production offensively.

“I think we have just as much firepower as last year,” Russell said. “We graduated a lot from last year, but we’ve been working hard to fill those spots. This won’t change anything for me. We’re just plugging new people in.”

Russell and Co. won’t have to wait long for an opportunity to prove that theory correct against a quality opponent. Huettner continues his tradition of scheduling a challenging exhibition slate of games this year, as the Archers will play preseason games against Harris-Stowe State University, McKendree University and Webster University before opening the regular season at Lewis and Clark Community College Aug. 28. The team’s first home game is more than a week later, when they host Union University Sept. 7 at Meramec.

For many teams, simply meshing new personalities on a team can often be one of a coach’s more significant challenges early on, particularly one with such a large influx of new players. Working to Huettner’s advantage is his players’ level of familiarity with each other, even in the season’s first week.

Among the freshmen, a majority of this year’s recruits had either played with or against each other, whether during the select season or during the spring high school season. With that obstacle cleared, Huettner has been able to tend to the challenge of honing his young, talented roster—beginning at 6 a.m., and for four hours each day. The early returns couldn’t look much better to the veteran coach.

“We let them know right away what the expectations were,” Huettner said regarding his two-a-day regiment. “And to their credit, with no exceptions, they have come prepared.”