An optimistic Nicolet girls soccer team is finding its legs, according to veteran coach Tony Quintero.
The Knights most recently downed Oshkosh North In a nonconference game, 2-1, on April 13 to improve to 3-1 on the season.
"We graduated a great group of seniors last year who left some very big shoes to fill," said Quintero. "We have a young but talented group of players who are eager to prove themselves and find their own identity. We had a rough start against Grafton on April 4 but in our defense, it was our first game and we just literally came back from break with only one day of practice.
"Two big wins this past weekend in the Woodside Girls Soccer Invite in the Dells against Monona Grove and Verona (April 7 and 8) helped to get us back on track. Our keeper, Marina Johnstone, had two great games with shutouts in both."
The Knights are coming off a 15-5-2 2016 campaign that ended with a 2-1 WIAA regional final loss to eventual state D2 semifinalist Waukesha West.
Quintero said the cupboard is not exactly empty for the Knights.
"We bring back three all-conference players from last year," he said.
They are senior captain Sophie Marshall (first-team all-league), junior captain Holly Rossman (honorable mention), and sophomore Josie Kelderman (first team).
"Other players who are performing well for us are junior Sarah Cianciola, sophomore Ashley Mehl and sophomore Autumn Stelzer. The team is starting to find its rhythm and looking to build momentum. We’re gamers through and through, and I’ve been extremely pleased with our resiliency and competitive spirit. We are going to compete in every match, I have no doubt."
Other seniors on the team include Johnstone, midfielders Abby Friedlen, Alexis Haupert, and Maggie Meyer; and forward Jaida Drame.
Against North, the Knights took a 2-0 first half lead and then held on for the win. Kelderman had a goal and an assist while Alia Maamouri had a goal and Rossman an assist. Johnstone was again impressive, making 15 saves.
The Knights will be back in action Tuesday, April 25, at top-ranked Whitefish Bay.