By Amber Dowdy

MUSKEGON – Last year the Muskegon Community College women’s soccer team posted the first winning record in program history.LSJ Logo incert

And after finishing 9-7 and taking second in their conference, the Jayhawks are aiming even higher.

“We have a goal of being in Florida for the national tournament this year,” said Jeff Lohman, the Jayhawks’ second-year coach.

Lohman’s lofty expectations are not based on having a host of returning players. The Jayhawks have only four players back from last year’s squad. But they also have four players who are returning to soccer after sitting out a year, and a freshman class that the coach is very excited about.

“There really is something good to say about every girl on this team,” Lohman said, “They’re very athletic, very strong, and very competitive. We have girls on our bench who should be starting, that’s how deep our talent is this year.”

Returning from the 2015 team are defender Lyric Glaser (Reeths-Puffer), who had one goal and five assists last season, along with forward Bailey Wilks (Mona Shores) and midfielders Megan Larabee (Oakridge) and Lauren Maus (Fruitport).

“Lyric and Lauren were two of our top players from last year, so we are excited to have them back,” Lohman said, “Megan can play several different positions, so she is going to be a big asset for us this year, and Bailey is an amazing teammate. She brings a great attitude to the team, and she is a wonderful support to the other girls.”

Giving the team more experience and stability are four players who competed for a year at the college level, sat out last season, and are returning this fall – Alyssa Benedict, Nicole Dear, Courtney Burnside and Racheal Darwin.

“Even though we only have four returning players, we are not super young,” Lohman said. “We have four players who took a year off who are going to be huge assets for us.”

New recruits will obviously play a big role for the Jayhawks this season. Several have already caught Lohman’s eye, and he’s very enthusiastic about the entire freshman class.

Two newcomers, in particular, have caught Lohman’s attention in the early weeks of practice.

Yojaira Campos, a midfielder out of Holland West Ottawa, is a two-sport athlete who will be playing soccer in the fall and basketball in the winter for the Jayhawks.

“She’s just an amazing athlete,” he said. “Both the basketball coach and I are ecstatic to have her this year.”

Forward Paige Swanson, a Montague graduate, is also going to be valuable to the team this year,

“We just love her,” Lohman said of Swanson, “I’ve been coaching for years, and I don’t think I’ve seen a girl as physically strong as her in my entire career. We are excited to watch what she can do at a college level.”

In goal for the Jayhawks this season will be freshmen Micky Wall, an All State Honorable Mention goalkeeper out of Oakridge, and Madison Blackwell, a Mona Shores graduate.

Even though neither goaltender has played collegiate soccer, Lohman is betting on their success.

“We are very confident in both of our keepers this year,” he said. “We have two goalies who can win games, so that is huge for us.”

The Jayhawks will open their season Saturday at Goshen College. Their home opener will be Sept. 10 against Ancilla College. All home games will be at Orchard View High School.