VINCENT - They may not have the girls out playing traveling soccer in the offseason that they'd like to have, but for the first time in several seasons the Warren Lady Warriors actually have an experienced soccer team.
Warren has nine seniors on this year's team to go with four juniors, giving the Lady Warriors hope they'll be in the hunt for every match this fall.
"I think we will compete," said Warren girls' soccer coach Ekrem Eksi. "We have our goals. We will challenge for the league this year. That's our goal."
Eksi would like his team's chances to claim the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League title more if he had a few more girls playing with traveling teams over the course of the summer.
But even with only about five girls playing competitively on traveling teams the Lady Warriors do have some experience and skill out on the soccer pitch this fall.
Seniors Breanna Duff and Lauren Mazurkiewicz have been playing varsity since they were freshman, and juniors Melissa Dickerson, Addie Barnes and Mackenzie Ullman have also seen plenty of varsity time.
Warren girls soccer
Head coach: Ekrem Eksi
Seniors: 12 Breanna Duff, 20 Erin Phillips, 29 Karli Gibbs, 23 Emily Gosset, 4 Marissa Koon, 1 Lauren Mazurkiewicz, 13 Arienne Miller, 17 Amber Smrek, 8 Lizzy Stoke
Juniors: 2 Addie Barnes, 10 Melissa Dickerson, 18 Jordanna Rauch, 5 Mackenzie Ullman
Sophomores: 7 Jordan Smrek, 16 Raelyn Gardner, 15 Abigail Ida, 3 Kayla Maze, 9 Nattalie O'Dell
Freshman: 11 Janelle Barth, 6 Alexis Coffman, 21 Megan Mayers
Sophomore Raelyn Gardner returns to the striker position after starting at the spot last year as a freshman. Jordanna Rauch, another junior, saw varsity action last year as well.
So all told, the Lady Warriors do have some experience but simply not at the highly competitive level of traveling soccer, something Eksi would like to see his girls program develop.
"That (girls who play traveling) is still missing. You cannot do it with one or two girls playing traveling team," Eksi explained.
Even without a lot of traveling experience, the Lady Warriors have the skill and athleticism to be competitive this fall.
Dickerson was one of the area's top players a year ago while Ullman and Barnes both emerged as offensive threats. Mazurkiewicz has anchored the midfield for the Lady Warriors while Duff has used her speed as a defender to help build the Warren defense.
Barnes and Gardner have the incredible speed to make break away goals, but are still growing as players.
Marissa Koon, another senior, has also seen time on defense as has Karli Gibbs.
Other seniors for the Lady Warriors include Amber Smrek, Arienne Miller, Lizzy Stoke, Erin Phillips and Emily Gosset.
"I really enjoy working with them," Eksi said.
With the seniors to lead them, the Lady Warriors have the desire and skill to be successful this season and are looking for good things this fall, but they're not quite to where Eksi knows they can ultimately get.
"We are better than we used to be, but we're not there," Eksi said.