KINGSBURG – Following a banner year last season, the Kingsburg High girls soccer team is hoping to continue what it started.
Last year, the Vikings made school history, winning its first Central Section title and advancing to the Southern California Regionals, falling in a shootout in its first state playoff game.
Now, Kingsburg returns to the field with a heavy dose of experience.
The Vikings return six starters from a team that went 22-6-2, swept its way to the Central Sequoia League title, and won the Div. IV title with an overtime win in the championship.
“We were a really well-balanced team,” said Kingsburg coach Scott Hodges. “We want to begin our season where we left off from last year instead of trying to rebuild.”
Of that championship team, the Vikings will return plenty of firepower from a squad that scored 84 goals on the season and outscored CSL opposition 29-2 in 10 matches. During that run, Kingsburg handed Central Valley Christian its first league losses in more than a decade.
Kingsburg returns it top three goal scorers and five of its top six.
Leading the way is sophomore Marissa Montelongo, who scored a team-high 27 goals as a freshman and was named the CSL Offensive MVP.
Other top returning goal scorers include senior Maci Morton (10 goals, first team All-CSL), senior Gianna Alves (nine goals), junior Kylee Silva (seven goals, second team All-CSL) and sophomore Emma Price (five goals).
Karlee Hodges, who was the CSL's Defensive co-MVP, also returns.
Scott Hodges (the father of Karlee) said one of the team's keys will be finding players to fill the roles of players that graduated, including starting goalkeeper Hannah Torosian. As a team, the Vikings allowed just 24 goals in 29 games with Torosian in the net.
Other key graduates include Halle Sembritzki (first team All-CSL), Audrey Jimenez (nine goals, second team All-CSL) and Adriana Mirelez (honorable mention All-CSL).
“Everybody is doing a good job of filling their roles already,” Hodges said. “The big thing for us is that we're trying to build the culture of the program and everybody is buying in.”
Once again, the Vikings will compete in Div. IV with the Central Section once again realigning playoff divisions this season.
Hodges said the goal for the season is to repeat as league and section champions but he doesn't want the team to look to far ahead, noting any possible championship wouldn't happen for another three months.
“Right now, we're going to focus on each game,” Hodges said. “But I think we have a really strong chance of repeating (as section champs).”