SHERIDAN — Entering the scrimmage against Rocky Mountain College, Sheridan College Lady Generals head coach Mallery Hammer, was not sure what combination of six players will make up her backline this year, one question that Hammer wanted to be answered as soon as possible.
“Yesterday we did that,” Hammer said. “We found the four women that work the best together and as the game went on they got stronger and stronger. Obviously, there is still work to do, but we found the pieces and where they go. Now it is fine-tuning things and working on the communication between the lines.”
Moving forward, the backline will feature Baylee Hamlin and Hannah Dalebout on the edges, and then Kieli Stults and Kylee Olson in middle of the defense.
“It is a good group of players; they all bring unique skill sets and they play incredibly well together,” Hammer said.
With the back four established, Hammer can start to look at ways to utilize the other two players elsewhere on the field and continue to build the depth on the team. This year’s squad provides an amount of depth that allows Hammer to play her brand of soccer— fast and aggressive.
“We lost a lot of key people early on last year, so I felt like we forced to play a certain way or without numbers,” Hammer said. “Yesterday we were really able to see that we have girls that can play in different spots.”
Hammer will use this depth to send her team on the attack, playing most of the game in the attacking half of the field. If the depth is maintained, Hammer will expect 10 hard minutes out of her attacking players, then sub in fresh legs to keep the pressure on the other team’s defense.
Hammer saw glimpses of this during the scrimmage but did not receive the results she was looking for. The Lady Generals had plenty of opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net but only did so once in the game. The Lady Generals allowed three goals in the scrimmage.
Hammer wants to capitalize on those opportunities in the future. Nerves, low confidence and slight fatigue could have contributed to shots going awry. Rocky Mountain did not do anything special, the Lady Generals shots were just all over the place, Hammer said.
Sophomore Chelsea Thornburg said she was happy with the overall performance of the team. The Lady Generals need to improve play in the middle portion of the field.
Hammer said she wants to have a smoother transition between defending and attacking, moving the ball down the field more quickly.
Sophomore forward Elizabeth Pickett said the Lady Generals will need to improve on keeping heads up when dribbling the ball, looking for teammates and moving the ball around the field quicker.
Lady Generals showed the ability to find the right pass to set up an opportunity to score, Hammer said, but the passes need to be made sooner to be more effective.
Pickett said the freshmen on the team handled the physicality of the game well and show a lot of promise.
Lady Generals have two more exhibition games against Carroll College Aug. 18 and University of Providence Aug. 19 before starting the official season with a home opener against College of Southern Nevada Aug. 24.