SHERIDAN — Sheridan College women’s soccer head coach Mallory Hammer experienced something this offseason that she hadn’t previously. Instead of making calls to prospective student-athletes, Hammer has started to receive calls from high schoolers wanting to play for the Lady Generals.

“Sheridan College women’s soccer is a brand now,” Hammer said. “… They’ve watched us play or they’ve heard from players that played here from their experience. The scope or recruiting has widened and we are getting really good players.” 

That nuance is a testament to the growth the Lady Generals have made over the last couple of years. Last season saw Sheridan advance to the Region IX Championship game before falling to national power Laramie County Community College.

The recent success, especially last year, has increased expectations internally and the level of competition externally. Hammer can see opponents locking in more and playing with more of an edge against Sheridan, wanting to put on their very best for one the region’s best. 

“Other schools know we are talented, and we are a team that they want each week to beat,” Hammer said. “It’s a lot, and it’s a high task. I told my team today that we can beat any team in the region, and I don’t know if I ever been able to say that truthfully. But we can also be beaten by any team in the region. We definitely have a bullseye on our back, and we will have to bring it every week.”

The Lady Generals’ 2018 mantra — fight to the finish — was concocted with that bullseye in mind. The team looks to remain focused each and every game and each and every practice not only in an effort to reach their full potential, but also to keep them focused on the task at hand. 

“I just think our motto is something like to look forward to,” Jordan Quig said. “It’s going to be a fight, and we are going to have fight every single day. We want to build up every single day just to fight to the finish and play hungry every single day.”

Quig, an every-day starter last season, will hope for continued strong play in the midfield as the majority of SC’s offensive production won’t return in 2018. More than 61 percent of the 34 goals scored last season were netted from players that are no longer on the roster. 

Hannah Ozmon represents the biggest offensive threat returning for the Lady Generals, tallying a team-high 11 scores last season. Morgan Bury brings a wealth of experience back in net, as she started every single game in 2017.

Many other pegs will have to find holes for the Lady Generals to build on last season’s success. Hammer is confident in her team’s ability to do that, knowing many of the incoming players have talent she’s not used to seeing. 

And it’s incoming talent that called Hammer — not the other way around like in years past — singling out Sheridan College as their desired school in which to continue their soccer careers.